Covid-19 drug trial at Addenbrooke's in Cambridge giving hope to those who never stopped shielding

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

A new Covid drug could give hope to thousands of vulnerable patients who have been shielding since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago.

The Protect-V trial is aimed at giving protection to the people whose immune systems did not respond to the Covid vaccinations, many of whom have been effectively left to shield in their own homes because they have little defence against the virus.

Up to 1,700 more patients from across the UK are now being asked to join the study, led by Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, which has been testing the drug Nicolsamide.

This month researchers have broadened the study to include a second drug, Sotrovimab.

Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge is part of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Credit: ITV Anglia

Sotrovimab has shown promising results for treating Covid in vulnerable people and could be used as a preventative treatment for people who are immunocompromised.

This could include cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients or patients with immunodeficiency.

Julia Hulme, 57, from Wisbech is already part of the trial and has been receiving the drug Sotrovimab.

She had a kidney transplant three years ago but had to continue to shield because regular Covid jabs did not give her protection.

Vulnerable patients whose immune systems do not respond to the covid vaccines could benefit from the drug. Credit: ITV Anglia

Ms Hulme said: "The opportunity for vaccines came along but it doesn't seem to like my immune system so I've been offered this.

"Hopefully it will give me some immunity and a little more confidence to get out and about."

Dr Rona Smith, a consultant in renal medicine at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and senior research associate at the University of Cambridge, is leading the trial.

She said: "The real group for whom there's an unmet need is for those patients that, despite having four or five vaccines, haven't made any antibodies so they remain unprotected.

"And there are a large number of patients who are still vulnerable to Covid, who are still shielding two-and-a-half years into this pandemic," she said.

"The launch of the Sotrovimab arm of Protect-V is a very exciting development.

"Not only does it add a second potential preventative drug to the platform, but also broadens inclusion beyond renal patient populations to any individual who has mounted a sub-optimal response to vaccination."

The first dose of Sotrovimab was administered at Addenbrooke's this week and there are plans to roll the trial out to at least 20 other centres across the UK in the coming weeks.

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