Norfolk GPs play part in 'ground breaking' Covid-19 treatment

Dr Alice Shiner

Dr Alice Shiner, partner at Lawson Road Surgery, Norwich, participated in the trial. - Credit: NIHR

GP researchers in Norfolk and Waveney have been praised for their parts in researching Covid-19 treatments.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found GPs in the region played a "key role" finding ways to treat people for the disease in the last 12 months including by recruiting patients to its PRINCIPLE trial.

The trial made the discovery a commonly-used, inexpensive asthma drug budesonide, may shorten the recovery time for people over the age of 50 with early COVID-19 symptoms.

Budesonide is a corticosteroid commonly used in inhalers and it was found when inhaled twice a day for two weeks, patients recovered faster by up to three days.

Lawson Road Surgery, in Norwich, was among the surgeries to recruit patients for the PRINCIPLE trial which is the only trial being managed by GP practices and surgeries in the country.

Dr Alice Shiner, partner at the practice, said: "As we watched Covid-19 begin to exact its toll at the start of 2020, our practice was desperate to do something to help. So, we jumped at the chance to take part in the PRINCIPLE study.

“The absence of proven treatments for GPs to recommend to our patients with Covid-19 has been frustrating, but PRINCIPLE is helping to steer our course. It is very satisfying to have played a small role in this hugely important trial.”

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The research also discovered that azithromycin and doxycycline, two commonly used antibiotics, are not effective in reducing time for recovery or risk of hospital admission from COVID-19.

The NIHR said GPs contribute to research into many conditions including diabetes, stroke and heart disease with many offering to recruit volunteers to find treatments for Covid-19.

In the last year, GP research staff across the East of England ran 38 studies and enrolled 22,812 volunteers to take part in clinical trials.

Recruitment for PRINCIPLE is still ongoing and participants can join from anywhere in the UK, either online, over the phone or via a healthcare professional, and without needing face-to-face visits with the trial team in Oxford. 

More information about taking part in research and other opportunities to take part in COVID-19 research can be found at

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