Underrepresented ethnic groups are being called to participate in a potentially lifesaving Covid-19 treatment trial conducted by the University of Oxford.

Currently no treatments for Covid-19 have proven clinical trial use, therefore the PRINCIPLE trial is looking to understand whether already exiting drugs could be used as a palliative treatment for those who are high-risk from complications caused by Covid-19. It aims to identify whether two commonly used antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline could be used to help those who are vulnerable to the virus to recover quicker, and consequently reduce the demand for hospital admission.

Access to the trial is available across the UK, but eligibility is restricted to participants who are over 50 with an underlying health condition, however more widely to anyone over the age of 65, regardless of whether they are already experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, which began within the last 14 days. 

With the intention of enlisting 3,000 participants the research has almost recruited 900 participants. So far conventional recruitment strategies have failed to gain wider participation of people from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community (BAME), who are already widely underrepresented in clinical research.

Covid trial reaches out to at-risk communities

To increase BAME participation in this potentially life-saving treatment, Professor Mahendra G Patel a senior academic and pharmacist of national and international profile, has been appointed to the role of Co-Investigator, and is the trial’s acting National BAME Community and Pharmacy Research Lead.

“I am delighted and honoured to be joining the PRINCIPLE Trial for this very important work in the crusade against coronavirus” said Prof. Patel, “there has to be a more concerted and tailored effort to reach out to [BAME] communities more effectively in health research, particularly in the case of Covid-19, where we are seeing members of these communities unfortunately experiencing greater risk.”

Generating engagement with these at-risk communities has been traditionally difficult due to language and culture, but incredibly important said Professor Chris Butler the Lead Investigator. Adding “reaching out… through areas such as local places of worship and community centres using a more targeted and culturally sensitive approach is crucial.”

One of the issues with wider participation is that “South Asian communities have a different outlook to engaging with health research and studies” commented Professor Patel, who also highlighted the role of pharmacists in reaching and generating interest with these underrepresented communities.

If you eligible for this trial and would like to take part go to www.principletrial.org and complete an online form, or contact them on 0800 138 0880.


Ed Brown is a journalist, GM Journal

For more articles and news on health inequality and Covid-19 go to our Covid-19 section