With $9 million in philanthropic support, an international group of physicians and scientists is establishing a research network to evaluate promising therapies for COVID-19. The group, called the COVID-19 Research Outcomes Worldwide Network (CROWN) Collaborative, is testing whether the antimalaria drug chloroquine can prevent COVID-19 infection or decrease its severity in front-line health-care workers. An estimated 30,000 such workers from across the globe will participate in the clinical trial, which the collaborative is calling the CROWN CORONATION trial.

Clare Ridley, MD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, works in the intensive care unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at the university are helming a global study of an estimated 30,000 health-care workers to establish whether the antimalaria drug chloroquine might prevent or reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections in such workers.
Image/Erin Jones/Barnes-Jewish Hospital

The collaborative and the trial are funded by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative with contributions from an array of public and philanthropic donors, intended to support research and development to bring effective, accessible COVID-19 treatments to market as quickly as possible.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is the clinical coordinating center for this ambitious international trial. The investigators comprising the CROWN Collaborative are from prominent research organizations in African, European, North American and South American countries, including Cameroon, Canada, Ireland, Ghana, Peru, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zambia.

“Because of their repeated close contacts with infected patients, front-line health-care workers in all parts of the world have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than most members of the general public,” said one of the study’s principal investigators, Michael S. Avidan, MD, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University. “In some places, more than 10% of those who have become infected are health-care workers. There is an urgent need to identify drugs that are effective at preventing infection or mitigating its severity.”

The study will recruit front-line health-care workers globally, including those from lower- and middle-income countries. That’s important because in many such countries there are relatively few health-care workers per capita, and protecting them from severe COVID-19 infection would provide a substantial public health benefit.

“An important way to protect the public at large is to do our best to protect the health-care workers,” Avidan said “It is very important that there is a global effort to protect health-care workers because when it comes to COVID-19, we’re all in this together. Finding ways to keep health-care workers from getting seriously ill is one of the most important ways to protect vulnerable people everywhere.”

Read more at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis