Two NOSM university researchers are part of a team of Canadian scientists working to study medications and treatments to fight SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) as well as long Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome (PACS), also known as long COVID.
Federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced last week that $10 million in research funding has been allocated to establish the Canadian ADAptive Platform Trial of COVID-19 Therapeutics in Community Settings (Can-ADAPT COVID).
Dr. Barb Zelek, Associate Professor at NOSM University, and Dr. Brianne Wood, NOSM University/Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute Associate Scientist, are part of the research team led by Dr. Andrew Pinto, Director of the Upstream Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital, a site of Unity Health Toronto, and the University of Toronto, said a news release from NOSM Tuesday.
Pinto and the researcher team are tasked with comparing oral medications for SARS-CoV-2 such as nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid™) in non-hospitalized patients, and to provide key insights into whether treatments prevent “long COVID,” said the release.
Health Canada said many drugs are being evaluated in Canada and around the world as potential treatments for COVID-19. Health Canada has authorized several of these for use in Canada.
NOSM said the study will also offer timely evidence to clinical researchers, health-system managers, and public health officials in Canada and abroad regarding impacts on hospitalizations and health care utilization.
NOSM's Dr. Zelek said the COVID pandemic has not ended.
“We are entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zelek.
“We know that at least 6.2 million people have died of COVID-19 globally and it is expected that new variants will continue to emerge, similar to what we see each year with the flu. It is important that we identify safe, effective, affordable, and evidence-based medications that will keep our communities healthy.”
Zelek said the findings of the study will help researchers better understand which treatment is most effective for COVID-19 patients.
“Studies like this enable informed, evidence-based decisions to take place at all levels of health care. With the opportunity for clinics across our region to participate in this impressive study, Northern Ontario’s health professionals and patients can be confident that the therapies and services are inclusive of Northern health and care realities.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Health Canada will each contribute up to $5M, and the Public Health Agency of Canada will provide the research team with relevant therapeutics, including Paxlovid.
Research into the effectiveness and challenges of new COVID-19 treatments for non-hospitalized patients will be done with teams from across Canada, with provincial hubs in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.