During the global health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic governments and institutions rushed to prioritise research to enable new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines to be developed.
The National Institute for Health Research's (NIHR) set up the Covid 19 Urgent Public Health Group, with Sion Glyn-Jones and Matt Costa from NDORMS serving as members of the UK-wide expert panel. The aim of the group is to prioritise, coordinate and deliver studies addressing and mitigating the health impacts of the outbreak, a key element of the Government's overall response to the pandemic.
Chaired by Prof Nick Lemoine, Medical Director of NIHR's Clinical Research Network, the group reports directly to the Chief Medical Officer. It has helped prioritise and fund trials such as the Recovery and Principle trials in Oxford that aim to compare several different treatments that may be useful for patients with COVID-19.
"The Urgent Public Health group includes patient representatives and healthcare professionals covering all aspects of health and care systems," said Siôn Glyn-Jones, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. "We review each trial for the science underpinning the proposed study, the feasibility of delivering the research in the current environment of the NHS, and the impact it will have on public health within 12 months. Over 1,000 trial applications have been reviewed by the UPH Group in the 6 weeks following the start of the pandemic."
Professor Matt Costa, Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery said: "It's important to get Covid-19 treatments from research into routine clinical care. To significantly speed up the time it would otherwise take for a product to move from research into broader access for patients, we are working with the health and regulatory bodies across each of the four nations. By joining forces in horizon scanning, liaison with companies and investigators, consideration of study results, and availability of product we can ensure safe and timely patient access to medicines useful in treating patients with COVID-19 infection."
To date, about 40 trials have been approved.