If you watched Hospital last night and want to help then you could consider taking part in research into COVID-19.

The Royal Free Hospital is recruiting locally to the antiviral FLARE study, which is seeking north Londoners who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting a test.

Medical student Sam Flatau (pictured above right) has already taken part in the trial, which aims to see if licensed drugs favipiravir and lopinavir/ritonavir, alone or in combination, can stop the virus replicating.

He said: “In October I was sent an e-mail by the trust’s occupational health team when I tested positive, asking if I’d like to take part.  When I got in touch Dr David Lowe, who is leading the study, e-mailed me back straight away, he was pleased I was interested and explained a bit about the trial.”

The next step was a visit by Li-An Brown, an infectious diseases registrar, to Sam’s home.

Sam says: “I was my isolation period so Li-An was in full PPE and she spent about an hour with me. She talked me through the trial, gave me the patient information and discussed the medication which I had to take four times a day for seven days.  I also gave a blood sample and had that repeated on day seven and 14 of the trial which was fairly easy. It’s a double-blind placebo trial so neither of us knew if I was receiving the antivirals or a placebo.

“I kept a patient diary where I was asked to note any side effects – I didn’t have any - and log my temperature. Plus I had been given a pack of seven saliva sample pots to use first thing each morning for the first seven days of the trial so I gave these back to the doctor when I saw her after the end of my isolation period.”

Sam said a member of his family told him they had come down with COVID-19, which is why he got tested.

“The day after they called I woke up with a fever but that went after an hour or so. I didn’t have a cough or any loss of smell or taste but I did have a bit of a sore throat for a couple of days. My main symptom was fatigue for two to three weeks. I just felt not quite right.

“I was glad to take part in the trial. It definitely wasn’t too much effort and didn’t inconvenience me. I found it really interesting and it was nice to talk about some science stuff with the researchers. It felt good to be involved and feel useful in some way.”

The trial is open to the general public (north London) and you can find out more information about the trial and contact details for Dr Lowe here.

Picture: The FLARE trial research team and Sam Flatau