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aerial shot of town in Ghana

The world’s largest clinical trial investigating treatments for COVID-19 has now launched in Ghana, West Africa, with the first participant recruited today. This is the sixth country to take part in RECOVERY, joining Indonesia, Nepal, South Africa, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.

Since March 2020, the RECOVERY Trial has discovered four effective treatments for COVID-19: the inexpensive steroid dexamethasonethe arthritis drug tocilizumab; a monoclonal antibody treatment, now known as Ronapreve; and baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory drug normally used to treat arthritis. However, as the pandemic continues to affect both high and lower income countries, and with the constant threat of new coronavirus variants, treatments are needed that are suitable for a wide range of patients and healthcare systems. Consequently, RECOVERY International was launched in February 2021.

Sir Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and Joint Chief Investigator of RECOVERY, said: ‘I am thrilled to welcome Ghana to the RECOVERY endeavour to improve the care of patients with severe COVID-19. COVID-19 affects everyone, and we need treatments for everyone, wherever they are and whatever level of healthcare is available to them.’ 

Dr John Amuasi, Head of the Global Health Department of the School of Public Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), who will lead the trial in Ghana, said ‘Being able to run the RECOVERY trial in Ghana is an important milestone in demonstrating Africa’s capacity for engagement in multi-country clinical trials during a pandemic like this. The trial’s focus on COVID-19 infection involving hospitalised patients in Africa will be critical in contributing information to demonstrate treatment regimens that truly offer the best clinical outcomes in Africa and globally.’

In Ghana, RECOVERY will initially focus on whether using a higher dose of the anti-inflammatory treatment dexamethasone has an even greater effect than the standard doses of the drug previously shown to save lives by the RECOVERY trial. It is likely that empagliflozin, a routine treatment for type 2 diabetes, will also be added to the study in Ghana soon.

The first Ghanaian hospitals taking part in RECOVERY are the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre, Accra, and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi. The study will be open to all hospital patients admitted with confirmed COVID-19. All participants will receive the usual care; some will additionally receive one of the treatments being investigated.

The expansion of RECOVERY International to Ghana is a partnership between the University of Oxford and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR). 

Funding for RECOVERY International was provided by Wellcome, in collaboration with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), on behalf of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, initially for a two-year period.