COVID-19 research hitting goals

Wednesday 18 August 2021

As COVID-19 continues to impact lives and spark lockdowns around Australia, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Foundation reassure our donors that the Coronavirus Action Fund is actively supporting research to potentially save lives and assist the response to the pandemic.

There are four main areas of support to date:

• International COVID-19 treatment trials (ASCOT ADAPT)
• Herston Institute of Infectious Disease (HeIDI)
• COVID-19 hospital-focused research
• Health care worker support


COVID-19 Treatment Trials

The focus of the Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT ADAPT) is to evaluate treatments that reduce mortality or the need for mechanical ventilation in hospitalised but not yet critically ill patients.

Thanks to donors like you, ASCOT ADAPT is now active in 24 hospitals internationally – 12 in Australia, 11 in India and one in New Zealand. Two more sites in Nepal will be joining soon.

There are 763 patients enrolled across those sites, with numbers rising because of the recent surge in Australian hospitalisations. The trial aims to recruit 1200 patients internationally by the end of February next year, with a target of 1500 patients before results and recommendations are published.

There are now three arms to ASCOT ADAPT:

  • Antiviral Domain:
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of Nafamostat, a repurposed pancreatitis medication
  • Antibody domain
    • Evaluating hyperimmune globulin – a treatment manufactured from the convalescent plasma of a large number of donors
  • Anticoagulation domain
    • Evaluating standard, medium and high doses of the blood thinner, heparin.

ASCOT ADAPT is the largest international trial of nafamostat and anticoagulants for patients who are hospitalised but not on mechanical ventilation.


The Coronavirus Action Fund is creating a legacy for future generations through the creation of the Herston Infectious Diseases Institute (HeIDI).

HeIDI will build on 150 years of world-class infectious diseases research on the Herston campus in Brisbane and focus on advancing infection management by translating research into meaningful improvements in patient outcomes.

The Institute has already funded a number of clinical fellowships including medical, nursing and pharmacy. The two medical fellows commenced in early 2021 and will continue bedside clinical work, laboratory diagnosis and commencement of a higher-degree by research (PhD or equivalent).

Hospital-focused research

The aim of the COVID-19 research grants is to analyse unprecedented changes in the way RBWH delivered healthcare as a result of the pandemic.

Key COVID-19 projects underway:

• The impact of life-support on COVID-19 drugs
• Long-term COVID-19 side-effects
• The impact of telehealth/virtual care on patient care
• Face time and virtual visiting of patients in ICU
• Changes in gestational diabetes testing
• Impacts on maternity and neonatal health workers
• Impacts on maternal depression and related disorders
• A new fast, low-cost COVID-19 test
• How many hours clinicians can wear personal, protective equipment.


Despite the availability of vaccines, RBWH Foundation believes there are many reasons why treatment research is incredibly important:
• A high number of people across the world and in Australia are not vaccinated and at higher risk of becoming infected and hospitalised
• A small proportion of patients who have been vaccinated have been hospitalised with COVID-19
• Low to middle income countries are disproportionated impacted by COVID-19, and cheap, effective treatments are needed to treat patients in these countries
• The development of COVID-19 variants means there is the possibility some existing vaccines will not be as effective.
(Source: Australian Government Department of Health

Once again, thank you to donors for support of Coronavirus Action Fund.

COVID-19 has had far reaching impacts across the world on an economic and social scale, particularly in low to middle income countries. COVID-19 will remain a health threat for a long time yet, so it is crucial COVID-19 patients who are sick in hospital have clarity around the very best COVID-19 treatments that are available to them and that are proven to work.