• Results from clinical trials for therapeutic treatments “in five to seven weeks”
  • If trials are successful, some drugs could be used in routine care, says NHS letter
  • Appeal to clinicians to help recruit more patients to trials

The first results of clinical trials into therapeutic drugs used to treat covid-19 patients could be available before the end of June, according to an NHS letter.  

A letter from the four chief medical officers of the UK and Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said there could be answers on the effectiveness of some treatments in five to seven weeks.

The letter, sent to CCGs, directors of public health, GP practices and independent providers on 6 May, said if patient recruitment for the ‘Recovery’ national clinical trial remains high “this will allow us to move successful drugs into routine care”.

More than 9,000 patients have enrolled on the Recovery trials, which tests several drugs in hospitalised pre-critical patients and are “designed to detect even modest effects on survival”, according to the letter.

The letter, which encourages clinicians to continue to help recruit for clinical trials, said: “As new admissions fall due to the success of social/physical distancing measures it will become even more important that a high proportion of patients with covid-19 are enrolled on to trials if we are to improve future treatment

“If we can keep recruitment for Recovery high, above 1,000 patients per week, we could have answers on some treatments in five to seven weeks. This will allow us to move successful drugs into routine care.”

Currently enrolment to Recovery is at 13 per cent of all admissions, the letter said. It added: “We appreciate that the operational pressure from covid-19 makes research hard, and local situations will lead to variability in ability to recruit, but increasing this proportion is important.”

Meanwhile, health secretary Matt Hancock has announced another national clinical trial – named Accord – which will test newer therapeutics in phase two trials of 20 to 60 patients, the letter said.

The two therapeutics trials are among 33 national studies into potential treatments or vaccines for covid-19.