Key drug treatment trial recruits first patient

The commonly used antibiotic Azithromycin is being trialled see whether it can treat the symptoms of Covid-19.

The trial dubbed ATOMIC2, has recruited its first patient and is being led from Oxford.

Eventually, 800 people will be enrolled onto the trial who are being assessed at hospital with Covid-19 but well enough to be cared for at home.

400 will receive Azithromycin for two weeks with the other 400 receiving regular care.

Participants in the trial will also give samples of blood and samples from nose swabs so that the biology of the virus can be better understood.

On the 3rd June, the first participant for the trial was recruited at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

The trial has received funding from the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), as well as the University of Oxford and Pfizer.

The trial will take place across 15 sites in England, Wales and Scotland.

The RECOVERY and PRINCIPLE national trials are complemented by the ATOMIC2 trial, where both formers are testing Azithromycin in different categories of patients.

Chief Investigator in the trial is Dr Tim Hinks of the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine and an Oxford BRC Senior Fellow. Dr Hinks said:

“Azithromycin is an antibiotic with unusual anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, so it is being seen as a promising potential treatment for COVID-19. 

“In COVID-19 patients, there is a window of opportunity of about two weeks when the disease progresses from mild symptoms, such as fatigue, fever and cough, to severe respiratory failure.

“Azithromycin is safe, inexpensive and available worldwide, so if effective, it could be a very useful weapon in the fight against this pandemic.

“And even if we find that the drug is not effective against the symptoms of COVID-19, it is still an important finding.”

“We think this is a key group of people to study as they are at risk of developing a more severe form of the disease, but haven’t yet, so the drug has time to act.

“As such, this study is complementary to the other two studies.”

Azithromycin is currently used to tackle various infections such as trachoma, genital infections, pneumonias, tuberculosis as well as lung diseases and viruses.

It should be used only where really effective in order to reduce antibiotic resistance.