As of this morning – Tuesday June 2 – the current recorded case count for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the UK has hit 276,332 with 39,045 deaths.

The PIONEER clinical trial, which is testing treatments for COVID-19, has received a funding injection of nearly £1.37 million from medical research charity LifeArc.

The randomised trial at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital is assessing the potential or repurposing existing medicines for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

The randomised study is comprised of three arms: the Japanese antiviral drug favipiravir, a combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc and standard of care.

Following a competitive pitch by 130 organisations globally, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, together with Imperial College, were among the 15 chosen to receive funding from a pot of £10 million.

Chief investigator of PIONEER Prof Pallav Shah is to receive the funding, which has been earmarked for scientific research to investigate the effects of the trial drugs on patients.

“The LifeArc grant makes it possible to conduct this trial looking at the treatment strategy using the novel Japanese antiviral drug favipiravir, and also to study in a more robust manner the effects of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc, in these patients with Coronavirus infections,” said Prof Pallav Shah, PIONEER principal investigator and recipient of the grant.

“It (the grant) also gives us an amazing opportunity to try and evaluate the effects of the virus on patients, and also related to the patients’ profile, than would have been possible previously (without the grant). We can use very modern techniques, such as single-cell sequencing, to try and understand the response to treatment, and the best way of treating the infection.”

Around £750,000 will be allocated to researching the science around the trial at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, with the remaining £620,000 to be injected into research at Imperial College.