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Students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are the first in the country to help drive the PRINCIPLE clinical study to find Covid-19 treatments for the over 50’s that can help speed up recovery.

A railway sign saying "Leicester" © Shutterstock

Students are being asked to help in the fight against Covid-19 by spreading the word about the nationwide trial to their families and friends, to help increase awareness and participation.

The trial is open across the UK to people aged over 50 with certain underlying health conditions, or anyone aged over 65. Those in the first 14 days of Covid-19 symptoms or with a positive test result can join easily from home, with an aim to reduce symptoms, speed up recovery and avoid hospital. PRINCIPLE is primarily evaluating whether treatment prescribed in the first 14 days of Covid-19 illness can speed up recovery in people aged over 50 and prevent the need for hospital admission.

Dr Neena Lakhani, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practices at DMU said: “I fully support this trial and I thought our students could do a lot in spreading the word about this to their families.

“From my research I know families and communities listen to their children. I thought it would be wonderful if our university could be a vehicle to get participants for this trial and to let others know about it too.”

Additionally, Professor Mahendra Patel, National BAME community and Pharmacy Research Lead on the trial said: “The PRINCIPLE trial provides a great opportunity in reaching out to the public in different and innovative ways. And now with the student cohort from DMU championing this urgent public health trial by acting as ambassadors, this is just excellent news.

“Bringing students on board is a perfect means of helping to raise awareness of this treatment trial, especially among older parents, grandparents, and the significant numbers of BAME families, all linked through DMU.

“This could prove to be a highly effective means of conveying public health messages in the future. After DMU roll out this programme, I wouldn’t be surprised if other universities joined in to support the PRINCIPLE trial and do something similar too.”

He continued: “Even with the news of the vaccine the importance of this trial is still very high. Vaccination, treatment and testing all need to work hand in hand, we cannot just rely on one.

“We need all of them, it’s vital we continue to look for an effective and safe treatment.”

Professor Andy Collop, Deputy Vice Chancellor at DMU said: “This is great to see our students at the forefront of something that is so important to everyone across the nation. I am proud to see DMU supporting such an important trial and I hope other universities follow.”

PRINCIPLE Trial Lead, Professor Chris Butler, from University of Oxford said: “PRINCIPLE is a rigorous clinical trial that will answer urgent questions about which treatments can help people recover from Covid-19 at home and reduce the need for hospital admission.

“Many more people are needed to join the study so we can generate high-quality evidence to guide the best available clinical care for all those who are unfortunately suffering from this terrible illness at home. I’m incredibly grateful to DMU students for joining our nationwide collaboration.”

Anyone who fits the eligible criteria and wants to take part can visit the website, or telephone 0800 138 0880. Before access to the trial is granted everything is run by the participant’s GP and medication is then sent out to the participant at home, who is then supervised for 28 days.