New clinical trial to prevent deaths after Covid patients leave hospital 

Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Addenbrooke’s Hospital - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A clinical trial that could prevent deaths after Covid hospital stays is being led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge. 

The trial, named HEAL-COVID, also hopes to cut the number patients being readmitted to hospital with complications.

Uttlesford District Councillor Petrina Lees has welcomed the trial.

Councillor Petrina Lees

Councillor Petrina Lees of Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Residents for Uttlesford (R4U)

Cllr Petrina Lees said: "We are very supportive of medical innovation and science, and proud to have this right on our doorsteps. 

"As portfolio holder for health, I am hoping that this new trial will save lives." 

According to the Office for National Statistics, 29 percent of patients who are hospitalised because of Covid are readmitted within six months, and more than 12 percent die within the same period. 

HEAL-COVID stands for Helping to Alleviate the Longer-term consequences of Covid-19 and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.   

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It will test a number of safe, existing drugs on patients across the UK in order to find effective treatments.   

Study lead Dr Charlotte Summers, from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, said: "Having survived the trauma of being hospitalised with Covid-19, far too many patients find themselves back in hospital with new or long-term complications. 

"Unfortunately, many go on to die in the months after being discharged. This trial is the first of its kind to look at what drugs we could use to reduce the devastating impact on patients.' 

The trial is done in collaboration with Liverpool Clinical Trials Centre (University of Liverpool) and Aparito Limited.  

HEAL-COVID will enrol patients when they are discharged from hospital, following their first admission for Covid-19.

They will be randomised and given one of two drugs, apixaban or atorvastatin. 

Their progress will be tracked. It is hoped a third drug will be introduced to the trial. 

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “The NHS led the way in research identifying dexamethasone as the first treatment in the world for Covid-19.  

“This latest trial could help discover new treatments for the after-effects of Covid, helping to rapidly get world-leading therapies to our patients.”