Joint Research Office


UCLH recruits 1000s of people to Covid-19 studies

11 September 2020

Almost 5,000 people have been recruited to Covid-19 research studies at UCLH since the pandemic began, with recruitment to studies continuing.

Patients and other participants have been recruited to more than 50 studies, including more than 20 studies given urgent public health status by the UK government – studies that have been given the highest priority in research efforts against Covid-19.

Research studies being run at UCLH include trials of repurposed drugs, ‘clinical characterisation’ studies which seek to understand the virus by observing how it affects different people, data studies, mental health surveys and studies of healthcare worker infection.

Studies at UCLH include the Recovery trial – which has found that the steroid dexamethasone can cut deaths by a third in ventilated patients. The Recovery trial is now the main national ‘platform’ trial through which promising drugs are trialled.

UCLH also took part in trials of the Ebola drug remdesivir – which was made available on the NHS after the trial found it reduced recovery time from 15 to 11 days.

Work continues to ensure that as many patients as possible are given the opportunity to take part in covid-19 research at UCLH. Recruitment to Covid-19 research studies is coordinated by a UCLH team, led by Prof Rob Heyderman, which identifies patients as soon as patients are admitted to UCLH, matches them with potential research studies that are most appropriate to them, and ensures a considered approach to patients, managing their expectations about what they can expect from their participation in research.

Where patients are unable to offer informed consent directly, dialogue takes place with family members.

Patients themselves have reviewed Covid-19 study protocols and contributed to recruitment efforts at UCLH – helping develop posters to go up around the hospital and advising on how we recruit patients into studies.

UCLH is now a leading site in two vaccine studies for Covid-19 – led by the University of Oxford and Imperial College London – and has built capacity to be able to conduct future Covid-19 vaccine studies in the pipeline. We are also actively involved in follow up studies of covid-19 which seek to develop understanding about the longer term implications of the infection.

Prof Bryan Williams, Director of Research at UCLH, said: “We want as many patients as possible to be offered the chance to take part in research. During the peak of the pandemic we had a vital window in which to carry out research to see what works in the first against Covid-19 – and we continue to recruit as many patients as we can now – even while patient numbers are lower now which is obviously welcome.”