Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

You are here: Home > About us > News and events > PIONEER study tests treatments for mild to moderate COVID-19

PIONEER study tests treatments for mild to moderate COVID-19

03 May 2020

An important new international study will compare two treatments for early stage COVID-19 inpatients. It is led by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, in conjunction with Imperial College and the Royal Brompton Hospital and in association with University Hospitals Leuven/UZ Leuven in Belgium,

An important new international study will compare two treatments for early stage COVID-19 inpatients.  It is led by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, in conjunction with Imperial College and the Royal Brompton Hospital and in association with University Hospitals Leuven/UZ Leuven in Belgium,  Professor Pallav Shah in London is the principal investigator for the UK arm of the trial.

The study has begun recruiting 450 inpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19, starting at the Chelsea site, with patients from West Middlesex University Hospital being recruited shortly. The study will not include the more severe cases requiring intensive care or ventilation.  

The trial will compare favipiravir developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemicals in Japan with a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin versus the existing care protocol. 

University Hospitals Leuven is making all necessary regulatory submissions and is seeking approval to recruit patients in Belgium. Professor Paul De Munter will be principal investigator for the Belgian arm.

Led by expert clinical teams and supported by NEAT ID, the study will be conducted rigorously to the highest standards and is being supported by a small group of organisations and individuals who have committed charitable funds towards the programme.

The UK arm of the PIONEER trial is being supported by CW+, the official charity of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which is trying to raise £2million towards the project.

Professor Pallav Shah, who is leading the study, commented: “There is a clear need to develop antiviral strategies to treat patients with COVID-19. In our study, we will test the efficacy of two of the main potential treatments that could be effective for early stage patients. The hope is that these could prevent a deterioration in their condition requiring intensive care and ventilators. This not only benefits the patients, but reduces demand for facilities which are not limitless.’

“One group will receive the antiviral drug favipiravir; the second group will receive a combination of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and azithromycin while the third group will continue with our current standard of care. Worldwide interest in favipiravir is based on some relatively small trials, and we hope this larger study will give a much clearer picture.  Similarly, there has been a lot of attention on anti-malarial drugs for treating COVID-19 based on relatively limited evidence.”

All three drugs used in the PIONEER study have been used in other diseases, and their safety profile is well understood. Developed and used in Japan, favipiravir is an antiviral drug prescribed for flu. Hydroxychloroquine was originally used to prevent and treat malaria but is now also used as an inflammatory against such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis. Azithromycin is an antibiotic, effective against respiratory infections, while zinc is a trace element which supports the immune system.  

Notes

PIONEER: A Randomised Controlled Trial of Early Intervention in Patients HospItalized with COVID-19: Favipiravir verses Hydroxycholorquine & azithromycin & zinc vErsEs Standard CaRe

Fujifilm Toyama Chemicals has provided its medication favipiravir, to be used# in the trial, as well as the relevant safety and other information required to obtain the official approvals, necessary to start the trial. Neither they nor any charitable donor is involved in the design, methodology or conduct of the trial.

Key donors supporting the PIONEER Study include: Ageas, KU Leuven and XTX Markets

Only inpatients in hospitals in the trial can be considered. New trial centres will be announced only when confirmed. 

Media enquiries

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital press office

Stephen Cox
M: +44 (0)7775 016333 (media calls only)
E: stephen.cox@chelwest.nhs.uk

CW+ head of communications (interim)

Raine Marcus
M: +44 (0)7950 462690
E:

Press office UZ Leuven/University Hospitals Leuven
T: +32 16 344 955 or +32 479 54 09 59
E: communicatie@uzleuven.be 

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the top ranked and highest-performing hospital trusts in the UK. The Trust  employs more than 6,000 staff over two main hospital sites: Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital, and across 12 community-based clinics within North West London. The Trust prides itself on providing outstanding care to a community of over 1.5 million people.

CW+

CW+ is the official charity of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, encompassing its two hospitals and other clinics. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the charity launched the CW+ COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to help staff provide the best possible care across the communities it serves, during the pandemic. The Fund aims to support the Trust’s hospitals in three key areas: new equipment, new technologies and support for frontline staff.

UZ Leuven/University Hospitals Leuven

UZ Leuven is a university hospital where patients can count on specialised care and innovative treatments, combined with humane attention and respect for every person.

Every day, almost 10,000 passionate employees provide the best possible custom-made care.

Future care providers and employees receive high-quality training in UZ Leuven, with a view lifelong learning and innovating. As a pioneer in clinical research, the hospital also contributes to tomorrow's patient care.

Press office UZ Leuven/University Hospitals Leuven: +32 16 344 955 or +32 479 54 09 59, communicatie@uzleuven.be

Press office

In-hours (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm)

Communications team
T: 020 3315 6828
E:

Out-of-hours 

We are contactable for urgent, time-sensitive media enquiries. In the first instance, please text or email, then call.

Communications team
M: 07775 016 333‬
E:

Please note: The Lakeside Mental Health Unit is run by West London Mental Health Trust—for media enquiries relating to the unit please call 020 8354 8737.