A potential treatment for COVID-19, which has shown early promise in China and Japan, will be trialled in NHSGGC in colloboration with the University of Glasgow. Glasgow is the first area in Scotland to have access to the drug, which can be taken at home when patients are in the early stages of disease as well as by hospitalised patients.

Over 300 eligible patients with COVID-19 will be invited to join the new research study into the effectiveness of the antiviral drug, favipiravir.

The trial will target early treatment of the virus for those who test positive and must be taken within four days of a COVID-19 swab test. This treatment is intended for people with milder symptoms.

The ground-breaking research is a collaboration between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of Glasgow, funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government. 

The study, Glasgow Early Treatment Arm Favipiravir (GETAFIX), will assess the effectiveness of the drug to help with symptoms and reduce the time it takes to recover from COVID-19.

Favipiravir has been developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemicals in Japan and an early study on its effectiveness has shown it to alleviate some symptoms.

Three hospitals are taking part including Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Royal Alexandra Hospital. Patients may receive treatment in hospital or as outpatients.

The antiviral treatment is taken in tablet form. Half the patients involved will receive the drug twice a day for 10 days alongside standard treatment, with the other half receiving standard treatment for comparison.

The study is organised by the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit in Glasgow and supported by the Glasgow Clinical Research Facility.

Prof Rob Jones, Director of the CRUK Clinical Trials Unit, Glasgow, and Chief Investigator of the study commented:

“COVID-19 was a disease few of us had even heard of before the spring. Although hopes are high ongoing vaccine trials will help prevent infection, this trial aims to improve current treatment for those unlucky enough to contract it.

“With the GETAFIX trial, we will be rapidly looking at whether this antiviral treatment may help kill off the virus in those affected and prevent more serious complications.”

Dr Janet Scott, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “This drug is active against many viruses, it is used already for influenza in Japan. We are able to offer it not just to patients in hospital but also for home use. Our hope is that it will stop mild symptoms developing into serious ones. We are targeting volunteers who are at higher risk of progressing to serious COVID19 such as those over 60 years old or with underlying health problems.”