Saturday (20 March) marks the one year anniversary since the first patients with COVID-19 were admitted to The James Cook University Hospital’s critical care unit.
Since then, more than 150 patients at the Middlesbrough hospital have been recruited to the one of the world’s most important trials into new critical care treatments for COVID-19.
James Cook is the country’s third highest recruiting centre for the Remap Cap trial, which has shown that treating severely ill COVID-19 patients, with both the steroid hydrocortisone and the anti-inflammatory drug Tocilizumab, significantly lowers mortality and improves chances of recovery.
As well as treatment research, the hospital has recruited patients into a genomics study to understand why some people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and others become extremely ill.
The UK has played a world-leading role researching the best treatments to improve recovery for COVID-19 in critical care because of its unique research infrastructure – mirroring the success of the vaccination programme.
Professor Stephen Bonner is a critical care consultant at James Cook and the research lead for critical care in the North East. He said: “Vaccines will reduce considerably the numbers of COVID-19 patients becoming critically ill and requiring critical care.
“However we are likely to see further critically ill patients in coming months as lockdown eases and the disease will be with us in some form potentially for years to come, likely to present in winter months.
“The ongoing discovery of new life-saving treatments for COVID-19 remains crucial and will support more critically ill patients to survive this dreadful disease. The UK has taken a world leading role in the discovery of these new treatments and the North East of England has significantly contributed, with every critical care unit recruiting critically ill patients to COVID-19 research. This is a big achievement for the NHS and the North East.
“Through the research projects supported at hospitals like James Cook, the UK has been able to build a vital understanding of COVID-19, and deliver some of the most important findings anywhere in the world, especially why some people become critically ill and how to treat them.
“There are still more questions to be answered in relation to COVID-19, but with our country’s unique NHS research infrastructure, along with those patients who participate in research, we are in the best possible position to succeed. To date over one million patients in the UK have taken part in COVID-19 research.”
Professor Bonner continued: “Despite the huge strides that have been made in coronavirus treatments, it is important to remember that there is still no cure for COVID-19. This is why it is so important to follow the rules and attend for your vaccination appointment when it is your turn.”
To take part in COVID-19 research visit www.nhs.uk and click on ‘Find out about Coronavirus’.
To find out more about taking part in other types of research visit www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk.