On International Clinical Trials Day, the RECOVERY Trial team are reflecting on an unprecedented collaboration that has seen over 10,000 patients enrolled in the world’s largest trial of potential COVID-19 treatments.
20 May is the anniversary of recruitment into what is thought to be the first clinical trial in 1747. At a time when scurvy was rife among seamen, James Lind, then a surgeon’s mate on the HMS Salisbury, followed a hunch that it was caused by putrefaction of the body. Lind noted that ‘No physician conversant with this disease at sea had undertaken to throw light upon the subject’. He recruited 12 sailors and allocated two men to each of six different treatments (vinegar, nutmeg, oranges and lemons, sea water, cider, and elixir of vitriol) and found that those given oranges and lemons experienced ‘the most sudden and good visible effects.’
273 years later, clinical research at Oxford University is at the forefront of global efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The RECOVERY Trial is the world’s biggest trial of potential COVID-19 treatments and the fastest ever recruiting individually randomised controlled trial. It was set up in record time, taking just nine days from conception to launch, and has recruited over 10,000 patients in 176 UK hospitals in just two months.