As the UK faces a shortage of both equipment and trained staff to operate ventilators amid the Covid-19 outbreak, it is becoming increasingly pressing to find effective alternatives to help treat patients.

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Queen’s University of Belfast are seeking to recruit approximately 4,000 patients in order to find alternative solutions for patients with Covid-19 to reduce the need for treatment with a ventilator and improve patient outcomes.

The RECOVERY-RS respiratory support trial will compare standard care, intubation and invasive ventilation for critically-ill patients, with other non-invasive treatment methods including masks driven by oxygen or high-flow oxygen through the nose. The comparative data produced will provide a better understanding of which methods are most effective in reducing the need for invasive ventilation and for improving patient outcomes.

This is a sister trial to the ongoing RECOVERY trial, using a similar infrastructure, to enable fast implementation of effective treatment for Covid-19 patients in Intensive Care Units.

The study is based on the theory that non-invasive interventions at an earlier stage may reduce the need for invasive ventilation with a mechanical ventilator. While these treatments are already available in the NHS and have been used for patients with Covid-19, it is not known which approach is proving the most effective.

Adult inpatients in NHS hospitals with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 will have a chance to join the trail. The trial will provide patients with an equal chance of receiving a standard care pathway or one of the non-invasive treatments.

Researchers are keen to see whether any of the possible new treatments are more or less effective than those currently used for patients with Covid-19.

Professor Gavin Perkins, Chief Investigator at the University of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, said: “Clinical trials are the only way to safely study these interventions and to offer patients the additional protections necessary within the carefully controlled environment of a clinical trial, and are the best way to quickly find effective supportive interventions for this global pandemic. ”

Professor Danny McAuley, Chief Investigator based at Queen’s University Belfast, added that the Covid-19 pandemic brings an urgent need for new therapies, particularly for critically ill Covid-19 patients.