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Medical chiefs have called for volunteers to come forward to take part in clinical trials on coronavirus.
After the UK’s top health experts wrote a letter urging clinicians to enrol patients, Health Secretary Matt Hancock used the daily news briefing on the outbreak to call for more volunteers as he paid tribute to frontline NHS staff.
“We have established three national clinical trials covering each major stage of the disease – primary care, hospital care and critical care for the most seriously ill,” he said.
“These trials are looking at the effectiveness of existing drugs and steroids, re-purposed for treatment for COVID-19.
“One of the trials, which is called recovery and deals in hospital care, is the largest of its kind in the world, with 926 patients involved.”
He added that the “bigger the trials, the better the data and the faster we can roll out the treatments”, and thanked the more than 900 volunteers who have signed up so far.
One of the trials already up and running has been billed as the “world’s largest clinical trial”, and is being led by researchers at the University of Oxford thanks to £2.1m in funding.
Trials will look at the effectiveness of existing drugs and steroids that could be re-purposed to tackle coronavirus, including malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine and anti-HIV medicine Lopinavir/Ritonavir.
Mr Hancock was leading the briefing for the second day running following his recovery from COVID-19.
He also said the UK must not “relax our discipline” now with social distancing or non-essential travel ahead of good weather forecast for this weekend – warning that “people will die” if people don’t stick to the lockdown measures.
“This is not advice, these are instructions,” he added.
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Standing in for the PM, Mr Hancock was flanked by the deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam, and chief nursing officer for NHS England Ruth May.
Professor Van Tam said he was impressed by the speed at which clinicians and patients had already taken up the challenge of taking part in clinical trials, but said it could be “a few months before we get any answers”.
He also said “we don’t know” when the peak of the pandemic will be in the UK, contradicting a suggestion from the health secretary earlier in the day that it could come on Easter Sunday.
Mr Hancock, who also backed away from that timescale, opened the briefing by offering his condolences to the families and friends of 684 coronavirus patients who were announced as having died earlier on Friday.
The latest fatalities marked the largest UK-wide increase in a day so far and brought the total to 3,605, overtaking the tally officially recorded in China’s Hubei province – the original epicentre of the pandemic.
Among the deaths confirmed on Friday were two NHS nurses.
Areema Nasreen, 36, was believed to have no underlying health conditions but passed away after two weeks in intensive care at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands, where she had worked for 16 years.
Aimee O’Rourke, 39, worked at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, which announced that she had died in its critical care unit on Thursday.
Chief nursing officer Ms May echoed Mr Hancock’s call for people to stay indoors this weekend, saying: “I ask you to remember Aimee and Areema and urge you to stay at home for them.”
Her Majesty, who has previously pledged that she and her family are “ready to play our part” in seeing the country through the COVID-19 crisis, will attempt to boost morale in a pre-recorded broadcast at 8pm on Sunday.
Her eldest son and heir Prince Charles has already addressed the nation this week, after coming out of self-isolation following his positive test for coronavirus.
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Meanwhile, the Premier League has abandoned a potential return to action in May and announced that the 2019-20 season will remain suspended until it is safe to resume.
League bosses have have also indicated that its players could soon take a 30% pay cut, after Mr Hancock called on stars to accept a reduction to their salaries during Thursday’s briefing.
Source: Sky News
Read The Full Article Here: Plea for more volunteers for 'essential' clinical coronavirus trials