ACT COVID-19 trial for rapid discovery of treatment

PHRI is working in record time to find a way to investigate two drugs that show promise in the treatment of COVID-19. The team of half a dozen of PHRI’s top researchers took only three days to design a study in the third week of March 2020, with a trial start date planned for April 8, 2020. The trial, called the Anti-Coronavirus Therapies to Prevent Progression of COVID-19 Trial is unique among current COVID trials around the world in that it contains two parallel arms: an outpatient trial as well as inpatient trial (at multiple sites in Hamilton).

As reported in The Hamilton Spectator the randomized trials will involve at least 1,530 participants, combining those people in the community who have tested positive for COVID-19, and people who have been hospitalized for the virus.

“There is no evidence-based treatment currently for COVID-19” despite what politicians or media might say, notes Emilie Belley-Côté, co-coordinating investigator of the ACT COVID-19 study. “We’re only supporting patients, hoping their immune system will fight the virus for them and they will recover.”

Richard Whitlock, the other co-coordinating investigator, adds: “This study has an adaptive design such that the promising emerging therapies can be rapidly implemented, and robust timely evidence established.” 

When Salim Yusuf, chair of the steering committee for ACT COVID-19, was approached in March by Whitlock about the urgent need for more ventilators at Hamilton hospitals due to the growing number of COVID-19 patients, they realized “what really needs to be done is something to prevent people from needing ventilation or dying,” Salim Yusuf told The Spectator.

They quickly joined forces with other leading researchers at PHRI – Sonia Anand, John Eikelboom, Jackie Bosch, Hertzel Gerstein, Darryl Leong – and experts within Master University including Dominik Mertz of the McMaster Infectious Diseases Division, and Mark Loeb, of the Pathology and Molecular Medicine Department at McMaster. The study is also supported by biostatistician and director of the Statistics Department at PHRI, Shrikant Bangdiwala.

The ACT COVID-19 study is sponsored by PHRI and currently fully funded by PHRI. Sonia Anand notes that “we need federal government support to acquire medications for this trial so that we can have an answer within months.”

Some two dozen hospitals in Ontario will be invited to join ACT COVID-19, and PHRI hopes the study can expand across Canada, if needed and feasible.

Read Hamilton Spectator article.

Download PDF of the article.

Follow news on this trial on Twitter using the hashtag #ACTCOVID19.