COVID-19: MACH Response
Our partners and especially our health services face unprecedented challenges over the next few months. The research response to COVID-19 is second only in importance to the clinical care challenges posed by the epidemic.
Research is the primary means we have to fight back. Without research we will not develop interventions to prevent or treat COVID-19 disease, nor will we understand why the novel coronavirus causes illness or how best to stratify its severity, deploy supportive care and predict outcome. The MACH has responded by helping our health services and research institutes lead the fight-back by supporting highest priority COVID-19 research.
Streamlining ethical approval across MACH: At the recent State-wide Hospital Research Managers Committee meeting (chaired by Nitya Phillipson, Royal Children's Hospital), the Research Managers have agreed to fast-track COVID-19 trials through Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval and are reviewing the use of the framework of National Mutual Acceptance (NMA). We are fortunate in the MACH community in having 5 NMA-competent HRECS; Research Managers can help organise and schedule efficient use of committee time through the MACH network.
A MACH-funded COVID-19 Research Troubleshooter: As recommended by MACH's Clinical Trials Committee, we have appointed the MACH COVID Research Manager Sofia Sidiropoulos to provide MACH health services with expert advice on how to expedite the approvals needed and will work with our partners' staff to organise the capabilities required for highest priority COVID-19 research.
Please proceed to address any queries regarding COVID-19 research and trials to
Helping to streamline Research Governance approval in our partner hospitals will be a key objective for MACH and the troubleshooter. Some Victorian health services have already developed a fast-track research governance sign-off committee; the MACH network can help each organisation provide this, which will be essential to deliver highest priority COVID-19 research.
MACH Infection Committee: The MACH Infection Committee has met urgently to determine its mandate during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The Committee agreed that, in the first instance, it would focus its advice on interventional research, such as clinical trials of potential treatments or of approaches to prevent infection or COVID-19 disease progression in (susceptible) patients and staff.
MACH invites partner Research Offices to alert us to studies that are sufficiently advanced to be seeking ethics and governance approval through the email ID MACH-COVIDtrials@unimelb.edu.au
The Committee will deploy its wide-ranging expertise to make a consensus recommendation as to which research is of the highest priority for support in MACH-affiliated health services. Factors favouring such an assessment might include funding from NHMRC/MRFF; an adaptive design; an opportunity to join an outstanding quality international study; studies that nest in biobankable or diagnostic material; or studies addressing a particular local need.
The Committee are meeting weekly to review current COVID-19 interventional trials to determine those of the highest priority. Tables below contain information regarding those trials that are of the highest priority and those in the developmental stage and will be updated weekly after each Committee meeting.
COVID Trials: Highest Priority
NHMRC has published urgent advice on COVID-19: Guidance on clinical trials for institutions, HRECs, researchers and sponsors on NHMRC’s website: www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-policy/COVID-19-impacts.