In partnership with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and our community of partners and supporters, CW+ have raised funds to support research including the PIONEER study which aims to prevent patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been providing care for a major influx of patients affected by the virus, while at the same time operating at the forefront of local and national efforts to combat the pandemic.

As part of this, the Trust is playing a central role by identifying new treatment options for those COVID-19 patients, including those suffering from mild to moderate symptoms of the virus.

The PIONEER study aims to prevent such patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms from developing severe disease and needing intensive and lengthy hospital support. If successful, the PIONEER study could not only save lives, but could also ease the huge additional burden that the outbreak has placed on the NHS and its staff, and help provide a valuable tool in supporting the move away from the current national lockdown.

Led by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with Imperial College and the Royal Brompton Hospital, the PIONEER study is examining use of medications that have already proven efficacious and safe in the treatment of other diseases including:

  • The antiviral drug Favipirivir, which has been identified and trialled in Japan and other countries as a potentially beneficial COVID-19 therapy
  • A combination of antimalarial and anti-inflammatory drug hydroxychloroquine; azithromycin, an antibiotic used in respiratory infections; and zinc, which is known to support the immune system
  • Our current standard medication and monitoring approach and how this compares with the new potential drug therapies

Patients have been assessed based on trial criteria and have given their informed consent to the trial, which they may leave at any time. If successful, the PIONEER programme will both advance the national research strategy and provide us with a transformative new approach to treating COVID-19 patients.

Following a competitive pitch by 130 organisations globally, The PIONEER programme has recently received a funding boost of nearly £1.37m of £10m awarded globally by medical research charity LifeArc. Chief Investigator of PIONEER, Prof Pallav Shah is to receive the funding, which has been earmarked for scientific research to investigate the effects of the trial drugs on patients.

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