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The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have joined forces with clinical system supplier EMIS Health to urgently recruit as many GP practices as possible for COVID-19 research.

Today, the Oxford RCGP’s Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) has written to nearly 4,000 GP practices in England using EMIS Health systems asking them to contribute patient data to help them develop a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic in general practice.

The data – shared under strict governance guidelines – will enable researchers to understand the spread of COVID-19, including tracking when it peaks and helping to inform government strategy around measures such as social distancing and lockdown. Practices are also being asked to support public health surveillance by supplying samples from symptomatic patients and providing extra blood samples from asymptomatic patients having routine blood tests. Some practices are also being asked to take part in rapid clinical trials of selected medicines to reduce the duration and severity of the virus. The first trial will need up to 3,000 patients. As many practices as possible are needed to support the work.

Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said, 'This has been an extraordinary collaborative effort to compress many months of work into a few days. We are finalising the first national COVID-19 trial outside of hospital, led by Professor Chris Butler; significantly extending the only national surveillance of COVID-19 outside of hospitals; and considering efficient COVID-19 information feedback to practices.'

Read the full story on the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences website

This story is also featured on the University of Oxford website