Twelve-month anniversary of COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday 4 March 2021

March 11, 2021, marked a somber anniversary – the one-year mark since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It’s also twelve months since Mr Luca Fu, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Foundation Board Member and Managing Director of YFG Shopping Centres, made the first donation to the RBWH Foundation Coronavirus Action Fund.

It was a donation that, within weeks, would result in the most critical – and overwhelmingly successful – fundraising campaign in our 35-year history.

Thanks to the generosity of you, our donors – everyday Australians, philanthropic individuals and corporate entities – the Coronavirus Action Fund has raised almost $5.8 million for the race against COVID-19.

Those funds have enabled RBWH’s very best medical minds to work tirelessly on treatment trials, patient care innovations and the development of testing technologies.

“We at RBWH Foundation acknowledge that COVID-19 will continue to challenge our medical professionals for many months to come,” said CEO Simone Garske.

“With the ongoing support of valued donors, we can ensure Australia’s brightest minds have resources required to continue their life-saving work.”

Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT)

The Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT ADAPT) is one of the most important projects funded by the Coronavirus Action Fund. Its goal is to discover which treatments are most effective in patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and whether those treatments will prevent patients deteriorating to the point of needing a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit.

As an adaptive trial, ASCOT is able to introduce new treatments and also cease ineffective therapies.

There are now three arms to ASCOT ADAPT.

Antibody research. Recruitment for convalescent plasma has closed following reports from the United Kingdom RECOVERY project showing no benefit over standard of care treatments. RECOVERY’s analysis was based on more than 10,000 randomised patients which found no significant difference in mortality rate at 28 days after randomisation.

ASCOT ADAPT sites in India, where case numbers are much larger than Australia, will instead trial hyperimmune globulin. Both convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin use plasma from recovered patients but whereas convalescent plasma is transfused directly to patients, hyperimmune globulin is mass-produced. Plasma is sent to manufacturing facilities where it is pooled, processed and purified to concentrate antibodies. Hyperimmune globulin requires more processing but has a longer shelf life, guaranteed antibody levels and is more potent than convalescent plasma.

Antiviral research. ASCOT ADAPT will conduct the largest global trial of Nafamostat. It has arrived in Australia and is being held at RBWH for distribution as required by trial sites nationally. Antivirals work by stopping a virus entering cells and replicating – in other words, prevent a virus from spreading throughout the body.

Anticoagulation research. potentially fatal side effect of COVID-19 is blood clots in the lungs. Anticoagulants work to prevent those blood clots. ASCOT ADAPT will trial: 

    • Standard dose Heparin  

    • Intermediate dose Heparin 

    • Low dose Heparin plus Aspirin  

International Expansion

Currently 72 sites in Australia have received approval for participation, with a further 11 in New Zealand, two in India and a third expected to go live in the near future. Discussions are also being held to expand ASCOT ADAPT into Denmark.

To contribute to this valuable research, please consider donating today.