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UK's largest temple spreads COVID-19 treatment trials message to Indians

Aditi Khanna
·3-min read

London, Oct 22 (PTI) The UK’s largest temple has joined hands with the University of Oxford to help spread awareness within the British Indian community of the varsity's ongoing trials exploring effective and speedy COVID-19 treatments.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, commonly known as Neasden Temple after the north London area it is located in, explained details of the university’s “Principle” clinical study – aimed at finding COVID-19 treatments for the over-50s that can be taken at home – to its vast network of worshipers and followers as part of an online sermon.

The key message to the Indian community is that those with COVID-19 symptoms can join the trial online from home or via general practitioner (GP) practices across the country, without the need for face-to-face visits.

“BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha UK supporting promotion of this important UK-wide flagship public health trial to communities, families and individuals is a welcome and significant step in helping us to reach out to communities as widely as possible,” said Professor Chris Butler from Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, co-lead of the Principle Trial.

“We know that COVID-19 minority ethnic groups in the UK more often get severely unwell when they become ill with COVID-19. It is so important that research involves those that stand to benefit the most from possible new treatments. The Principle Trial is a truly democratic, UK-wide clinical trial and is striving to be as inclusive as possible,” he said.

The university said that the findings of its study will be so much more useful if it includes people in the trial who are representative of the UK's population as a whole, including Indians and other ethnic minorities.

“People from minority ethnic communities with COVID-19 can easily contribute to this trial and make a big difference to the evidence that supports better care for everybody,” added Prof. Butler.

Sadhu Yogvivekdas, Head of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Sanstha for UK & Europe, explained the details of the study as part of efforts to help recruit people from minority ethnic communities, which has been flagged as a challenge in the hunt for treatments.

“The Principle Trial is led by the University of Oxford to evaluate the use of commonly prescribed and established antibiotics as a treatment to help reduce the symptoms of coronavirus early on and for people aged over 50 to recover quickly and reduce their likelihood of hospital admission,” said Professor Mahendra G. Patel, Co-Investigator and Principle Trial’s National Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Community and Pharmacy Research Lead.

“It is important we reach out to those most affected by COVID-19, such as the BAME communities, and in this case we are delighted to collaborate with and have the support of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha UK in helping us to engage with the Hindu community through its vast network and followers,” he said.

The Principle Trial is funded from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research as part of the UK government’s rapid research response fund.

It has recruited over 1,300 participants and is currently evaluating usual COVID-19 care alone versus usual care plus azithromycin; or usual care plus doxycycline. Azithromycin is a commonly used antibiotic that is anti-inflammatory, treats community-acquired pneumonia and bacterial chest infections, and has antiviral properties. Doxycycline is another commonly used antibiotic.

The overall aim of the study is to find treatments for COVID-19 for people in the community who are at higher risk of complications and find medicines that can help people get better quickly without the need of hospitalisation. PTI AK NSA