Niclosamide may prevent the most vulnerable from contracting Covid-19Lucas Maddalena

A University of Cambridge-led trial is set to test innovative treatments that may prevent the most vulnerable from contracting Covid-19.

The ‘Protect-V’ trial, which has received Urgent Public Health status from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), began this month and is expected to last for 12 months.

It will test drugs such as niclosamide – currently used to treat tapeworm infections – for their effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 in care home residents, immunocompromised patients with kidney disease, those on dialysis, and those with a kidney transplant. Niclosamide has been reported as a potential antiviral drug for SARS-CoV-2.

The aim of the trials is to determine whether these patients can be granted protection “over and above” that given by a vaccine.

2,250 people are expected to take part in the trial, out of the estimated 500,000 nationwide who could benefit from preventive drug treatments.

The government has contributed £1.5 million in funding for the trials.


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Dr Rona Smith, Senior Research Associate for Protect-V at Cambridge, said: “Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the lives of these patients. The rapid roll out of vaccination has been very welcome news, but it is unclear if these patients will mount as strong responses to the vaccine as healthy individuals.”

“The government plans for any treatment deemed safe and effective during the trials to be “rapidly made more widely available on the NHS.”

In March 2020, similar trials began in the UK on the steroid dexamethasone, and the resulting treatment has been widely praised for its success in increasing Covid-19 survival, with NHS England estimates suggesting that the steroid has so far saved the lives of 22,000 people in the UK .