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The world’s largest clinical trial investigating treatments for COVID-19 has now launched in South Africa, with the first patient recruited today. This is the fifth country to take part in RECOVERY, joining Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.

Pipette and glass tubes

Since March 2020, the RECOVERY Trial has discovered three effective treatments for COVID-19: the inexpensive steroid dexamethasone; the arthritis drug tocilizumab; and a monoclonal antibody treatment, now known as Ronapreve. As the pandemic continues to affect both high and lower income countries, treatments are needed that are suitable for a wide range of patients and healthcare systems.

Sir Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Joint Chief Investigator of RECOVERY, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that South Africa has joined RECOVERY. South African scientists, medical professionals and patients have already made an enormous contribution in the fight against COVID. By working together on RECOVERY we hope to further accelerate progress towards finding globally relevant solutions to this terrible disease.’

Dr Emmanuelle Denis, who liaises between the Oxford-based RECOVERY team and investigators outside the UK, said: ‘We are very excited to be expanding RECOVERY into South Africa in collaboration with Wits Health Consortium and the University of Cape Town. Expanding RECOVERY recruitment to Africa will help to further the continent’s capacity to conduct adaptive streamlined clinical trials and will provide important insights into the effectiveness of study treatments in a different patient population.’

In South Africa, RECOVERY will initially focus on whether using a higher dose of the anti-inflammatory treatment dexamethasone (compared to standard doses of the drug previously shown to save lives in the RECOVERY trial) has an even greater effect. The hospital sites taking part include major academic hospitals in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Durban, ensuring that a good mix of COVID-19 patients will have the opportunity to enrol in the trial. All participants will receive the usual care in the participating hospitals.

The full story is available on the University of Oxford website

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