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31 Mar 2020

The Pratt Foundation commits $1 million to support clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments

The Doherty Institute has welcomed a generous commitment of $1 million from Anthony Pratt and The Pratt Foundation, which will be directed towards the Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT).

Led by the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s infectious diseases clinician and co-lead of clinical research at the Doherty Institute, Associate Professor Steven Tong, ASCOT will answer whether drugs that directly target the virus (called antivirals) given to people with COVID-19 will prevent the need for intensive care and save lives.

The trial, due to commence in a matter of days, will initially test two treatments for hospitalised COVID-19 patients, using drugs that are currently used to treat HIV (lopinavir/ritonavir) and arthritis (hydroxychloroquine). The trial will assess whether it is better to use either drug or in combination. 

The trial will involve 2,500 patients in over 60 hospitals across the country, in every state and territory, alongside 12 hospitals in New Zealand. It will recruit patients hospitalised with COVID-19 who do not yet require intensive care support, with the aim of preventing deterioration to the point of needing a ventilator. ASCOT will be implemented by some of the world’s leading infectious disease experts. 

Chairman of Visy Industries and The Pratt Foundation, Anthony Pratt, said, “Bushfires unfortunately happen every year but this is a one-in-100-year event, so this is a call to arms for people to contribute more now.

“We are hoping for a silver-bullet solution. We need to do something, and preferably something within 60 days. On a wider level though, people who can should step up in this situation,” he said.

University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, thanked The Pratt Foundation for their generous contribution and emphasised the urgent need to test potential treatments.

“As a ‘new disease’ there are currently no treatments with established effectiveness for COVID-19.  However, there are multiple treatment options, and combinations, that may be effective,” said Professor Lewin.

“ASCOT aims to evaluate candidate treatments as quickly as possible, identifying effective treatments rapidly and discarding ineffective treatments equally as fast.”

For more information about ASCOT, including how to donate to the trial, please call Brooke Disney on 0423 573 138.

ASCOT website coming soon.