Joint Research Office


JRO praised for speed of site activation in key Covid-19 trial

5 October 2020

Global life science company Roche has praised UCLH for the speed at which we set up and began an important trial of an immunomodulatory drug in Covid-19.

Late in the evening on Friday 24 April Roche UK got the all clear to open the COVACTA trial led by Claire Roddie at UCLH and the study documents arrived in the JRO on the Saturday morning.

By Saturday evening the contracts were ready for signature, paving the way for drug delivery to UCLH. The first patient was dosed at UCLH on Wednesday 29th April.

It required huge effort over the weekend from JRO staff to work on contracts and finances, get regulatory and ethical approvals and put in place government arrangements.

Quoted in an NIHR blog, Dr David Harland, UK liaison for the COVACTA study at Roche, praised UCLH alongside the multiple health and research bodies in the UK which worked together during the pandemic on the study.

The COVACTA trial looked at whether tocilizumab developed by Roche could dampen the overactive immune response seen in some Covid-19 patients – a treatment approach which was thought to be promising.

The trial achieved its global target of 450 patients. The UK was the second highest recruiting country, second only to the USA. It has now closed to recruitment in nine countries.

While the drug was found not to improve patient outcomes, Rav Seeruthun, Medical Director for Roche UK, said the trial showed what can happen when everyone pulls together: “Covid-19 has been a catalyst that has shown what we can achieve together, providing a blueprint for how we should collaborate in future.”

Read more on the NIHR website.