Finding medications that reduce COVID-19-related hospitalizations, deaths, and symptoms.

The CanTreatCOVID trial relies on volunteers, often referred to as participants, to help us better understand the effectiveness of medications for mild to moderate COVID-19.

The study is open to Canadians (18+ years of age) who are within the first 5 days of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Enrollment coming soon

About the study

While public health measures and vaccines have reduced the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), most scientists predict that new variants will continue to emerge and become more community based (endemic) versus global (pandemic). The CanTreatCOVID study is an adaptive platform trial (APT) designed to identify effective and affordable medications so they can be made readily available in community settings.

Many of the medications used to treat COVID-19 in more severe cases require IV infusion, are expensive, and are usually reserved for hospitalized patients or specialized centres providing treatment for those at the highest risk of severe outcomes.

COVID-19 vaccines have helped to reduce infection severity in Canada and around the world. As a result, patients with mild to moderate symptoms are now going to their primary care providers, including family doctors, walk-in clinics, and other community care settings, for access to care for COVID-19.

Although their symptoms may not be as severe, some patients can still be at risk of hospitalization, death, or developing long COVID. It is urgent that we identify effective, safe, affordable, and evidence-based medications so they can be accessed by the community, reducing the burden on hospitals and ICUs. The long-term goal for this study is to find which medications work best to reduce hospitalizations and death and help people feel better faster.

The CanTreatCOVID trial relies on volunteers, often referred to as participants, to help us better understand the effectiveness of medications for mild to moderate COVID-19. The study is open to Canadian residents (18+ years of age) who are within the first 5 days of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

We will recruit patients by marketing to the public and through primary care clinics, out-patient clinics, and emergency departments, and by using Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data from primary care research networks in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland.

Usually, clinical research trials studying medications only involve very few treatments. As researchers are continuously working on innovating existing medications and developing new ones for COVID-19, CanTreatCOVID needed to use a study design that would let us study multiple medications over time. Adaptive platform trials (APTs) allow research teams to get approval for a ‘master’ protocol, outlining in detail study procedures and methods, but then add new medications to the trial as they emerge without having to start from the beginning.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, APTs have been crucial in identifying what does and does not work to treat COVID-19 among hospitalized patients, and we would like to replicate this success at the community level.

A transparent Canadian COVID-19 Out-Patient Therapeutics Committee will identify the medications to be investigated in the CanTreatCOVID study.

We will measure the drug efficacy by comparing hospitalization and death at 28 days, as well as time to recovery and impact on long COVID. We will also assess changes in quality of life and the usage of health resources to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each medication and/or combination of medications.

Findings will be shared through publications, media channels, newsletters, social media, and to policymakers and healthcare providers across Canada.

To ensure the findings are shared widely and effectively, the CanTreatCOVID team will also work closely with APTs in the United Kingdom and European Union.

Participants who are enrolled in the trial will be randomized to receive either a study drug or usual care. Study drugs will be those identified by the Canadian COVID-19 Out-Patient Therapeutics Committee and approved by research ethics to be evaluated in this trial. Usual care involves supportive care (i.e., rest and fluids) and symptom relief.

Usual care is included in this trial because we want to know if potential medications for COVID-19 are more effective at reducing outcomes such as hospitalizations, death, severity and duration of symptoms, and the occurrence of long COVID than resting, taking fluids, and taking something to relieve symptoms, if necessary.

The results of this study will help Canada and other countries in deciding which treatments are most effective in reducing hospitalization and death among patients with COVID-19, while also being cost-effective, adding to our current knowledge on medications and therapeutics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings will directly influence standards of care for COVID-19 infection in community settings in Canada and around the world.

This study will also build experience within Canada with conducting APTs, something that is currently lacking. Beyond COVID-19, our APT infrastructure can be adapted to study therapeutics for influenza,  other upper respiratory pathogens and other diseases in the future.

Our partners

Together we can treat COVID.

Together we can treat COVID.

The CanTreatCOVID study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Health Canada and supported by our educational, clinical and research partners from across Canada.

Learn about our partners