Australian COVID-19 trial opens at two hospitals in India

The AustralaSian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) has been expanded into India.

According to the University of Melbourne media release, the first patients were recruited last week.

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These patients are located at the two sites, Christian Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana (Punjab) and Sterling Multispecialty Hospital in Pune (Maharashtra).

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ASCOT aims to discover which existing treatments are most effective in patients hospitalised with COVID-19.


In addition, it wants to understand how they will prevent patients deteriorating to the point of needing a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

ASCOT has partnered with the George Institute for Global Health to oversee the trial in India.


ASCOT Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Steven Tong, a Royal Melbourne Hospital infectious diseases clinician and co-lead of clinical research at the Doherty Institute said:

“A key principle of the trial is equity in terms of access to experimental treatments that could potentially have benefits for patients.”

The number of patients with COVID-19 in India remains significantly higher than in Australia and New Zealand.

Prof. Bala Venkatesh, Professorial Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health and the President for the College of Intensive Care Medicine (ANZ), said:

“We are confident that the study questions being asked are of priority to Indian patients and participating trial sites, and feasible to address in India.”

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One new treatment that’s recently been added to ASCOT is nafamostat.

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Associate Professor Tong said:

“Nafamostat is mainly used in Korea and Japan as a treatment for acute pancreatitis and some blood clotting conditions. … It is also likely that nafamostat will reach high levels in the lungs where the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes so much of its problems. What’s more, it has a favourable safety profile.”

The ASCOT team is funded by Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation, Pratt Foundation, Minderoo Foundation, BHP Foundation, Health Research Council of New Zealand, Hospital Research Foundation, Wesley Medical Research, Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE), Macquarie Group Foundation and The Common Good (The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation).

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