Health Minister Commends COVID-19 Clinical Research Team

Health Minister Robin Swann marked International Clinical Trials Day with a visit to the team behind the successful roll-out of an innovative COVID-19 antiviral treatment study.

The Health Minister visited the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN) where the Primary Care team have supported over 1,000 local patients to participate in the UK-wide PANORAMIC study on an antiviral treatment.

Speaking after the visit, the Minister said: “There is no doubt that one of the legacies of COVID-19 will be the pace at which new treatments and vaccines were made available. Of course these new developments would not have been possible without the researchers behind studies such as this, and the people who stepped forward to participate.

“I want to commend the team at NICRN for the work they have undertaken as part of the PANORAMIC study. People from Northern Ireland willingly volunteered for the study which will inevitably help us understand how best to use antiviral treatments and who will benefit most from them.”

Patients at higher risk from COVID-19 infection were able to participate in the study investigating the oral antiviral molnupiravir, which launched in December in 2021. Since then more than 25,000 people from across the UK signed up to the University of Oxford study which was set up to rapidly evaluate if antiviral treatments help people at higher risk of COVID-19 to recover sooner and prevent the need for hospital admission. Recruitment for the antiviral molnupiravir arm of the study closed at the end of April 2022 and it is anticipated that interim results may be available this summer.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Cathy Harrison said: “I would like to take this opportunity on International Clinical Trials Day to thank the PANORAMIC team for their outstanding work which will help inform how these medicines may be deployed more widely in the future and ultimately help us to provide care for the most at risk from COVID-19.”

Professor Nigel Hart, co-lead of the NICRN Primary Care group and Lead Investigator for PANORAMIC in NI, added: “International Clinical Trials day reminds us of the importance of nurturing a trusted collaboration between society and the research community to produce the evidence on which the best treatment choices can be made.”

The University of Oxford is now investigating an additional antiviral, Paxlovid, within the PANORAMIC study. Recruitment to the Paxlovid arm initially began in England from April however the Department of Health and Social Care is working with the PANORAMIC study team to develop plans for how Paxlovid could potentially become available through the study in Northern Ireland in due course.

Further information about COVID-19 treatments and the PANORAMIC study is available at NI Direct Treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19)(external link opens in a new window / tab)

Find out more about the University of Oxford COVID-19 antiviral trial at the PANORAMIC trial website

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