The University of Manitoba in Canada is the participating in its first clinical trial to test whether the malaria drug called hydroxychloroquine can prevent people from contracting COVID-19. Led by the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, it commenced recently and the study team is actively enrolling participants. Investigators here seek to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Hydroxychloroquine?
Approved by Health Canada for decades, it has been used as a treatment for malaria since the 1950s. Waves of studies are being conducted worldwide. Some studies have produced some data that the drug can reduce the ability of COVID-19 to replicate. U.S. President Donald Trump recently touted the drug during a press conference but according to one recent study, the drug doesn’t work better than the standard of care.
Background of the Study
This innovative study is the result of an American/Canadian collaboration among the University of Manitoba, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, the University of Alberta, and the University of Minnesota.
Gearing Up in Canada
The University is gearing up to coordinate and participate in six COVID-19 clinical trials led by principal investigator Dr. Dr. Ryan Zarychanski and a “growing army of skilled University of Manitoba researchers.” Major academic medical centers across Canada and the United States (and elsewhere) are rising to the challenge in this pandemic. They are dropping other priorities and concentrating precious capital, skill, talent, and resources to combating COVID-19.
A ‘Siteless’ Clinical Trial
First, the university investigators will attempt to assess whether the drug works with participants who have tested positive for COVID-19 or live with individuals who test positive. Because health care workers are also at risk due to exposure, they are invited to participate.
Importantly, this is not a typical study. In dealing with the hazards of the pandemic, the researchers infused innovation into the study program. Taking place in Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta and the U.S., study participants will not visit research sites due to the contagious nature of the disease. Rather, the drug or placebo will be shipped to the participant the day after they are deemed eligible and enrolled in the study thanks to the contribution of Purolator Canada. The participant will take the study intervention at home for five days. Hence, this study can be considered an example of a “Siteless” trial where much of what occurs with the participant is at home.
Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, associate professor, department of internal medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba and department of medical oncology and hematology, CancerCare Manitoba
Call to Action: Are you living in Manitoba, Quebec, or Minnesota and seek to contribute to the cause of combating COVID-19? Check to see if you meet the eligibility criteria. For those living in Manitoba, see the University of Manitoba’s questionnaire.