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University of Bradford professor is leading UK-wide awareness campaign

University of Bradford students and staff are being urged to get behind a UK-wide public health trial in the search for an effective treatment for Covid-19 BEFORE people are admitted to hospital.

The Government-backed PRINCIPLE trial is run by Oxford University and is being promoted in Bradford and the district by Professor Mahendra Patel, of the University of Bradford, who is the National BAME Community and Pharmacy Research Lead for the trial.

He says Bradford’s high BAME population means the city has a rich audience in terms of its ethnic diversity, including having the highest Pakistani population in the country.

But he added they wanted to reach out to all high-risk groups.

The trial is aimed at anyone over 50 with underlying health conditions or anyone aged over 65 who has Covid-19 symptoms. Thus far it has attracted over 4,200 volunteers but more are needed, particularly from BAME communities, who have been more affected by Covid-19 than other groups.

Call for more volunteers

Professor Patel said: “It’s well documented that BAME communities are more likely to be adversely affected by Covid-19. This trial is all about finding an effective and early treatment for covid-19 in the home in a bid to prevent the need for people having to go into hospital.”

He went on: “At the moment, there is no treatment for Covid 19 in the community, so people with symptoms simply have to self-isolate and if symptoms get worse may even be admitted to hospital.

“The trial team at Oxford are looking at established medicines to see if they can be effective in reducing Covid-19 symptoms early, including antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Additional treatments are under consideration.”

He added: “This is a UK-wide trial which could have a major impact in terms of treating people earlier but to make the trial representative, we need more people to take part, including those from ethnically diverse communities.

“That’s why we’re asking all our students and staff to reach out to their families, extended families and friends to help raise awareness of this important public health trial as widely as possible, and those from BAME communities district-wide.”

Urgent questions

The University of Bradford, which has over 10,000 students and over 800 staff, first reported on the launch of the PRINCIPLE trial in September 2020, which is currently investigating inhaled budesonide commonly used in treating asthma, to see whether early treatment can help over-50s recover quickly from Covid-19, without the need for hospital admission. PRINCIPLE is recruiting participants through its website and GP practices.

Co-Lead of the PRINCIPLE Trial, Professor Chris Butler from the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said “PRINCIPLE is answering urgent questions about which treatments can help people recover at home from Covid-19. So our trial generates high-quality, reliable evidence, we need many more people to volunteer from all communities across the country and so I’m incredibly grateful to University of Bradford staff and students for joining our nationwide collaboration.”

University of Bradford Vice Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon backed the trial and urged students and staff to spread the message. She said: “Anything which helps in the battle against Covid-19 deserves our support. We’re particularly conscious of the way in which people from certain communities have been affected more than others. If the PRINCIPLE trial proves successful, it could save lives and therefore deserves our wholehearted support.”

Anyone who fits the eligible criteria and wants to take part can visit the website, or telephone 0800 138 0880. Before access to the trial is granted everything is run by the participant’s GP and medication is then sent out to the participant at home, who is then supervised for 28 days.

Additional information

PRINCIPLE is funded by UK Research and Innovation and the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research as part of the UK Government’s rapid research response fund.

Prof Patel is also a national board member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

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