More than 400 care homes, covering around 12,000 elderly residents, are to take part in a clinical trial of COVID-19 preventative treatments.
The PROTECT-CH trial, which is run by the University of Nottingham, is one of two trials being launched by the government in a bid to find preventative COVID-19 treatments for the most vulnerable.
The two-year programme, which will begin in May, will look at treatments for reducing transmission and serious illness among care home residents and staff.
Approved treatments from the trial could be rolled out to 420,000 care home residents across the UK.
Professor Philip Bath, lead researcher for PROTECT-CH at the University of Nottingham, said: “Care homes have seen high rates of illness and death due to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
“Apart from vaccines, there are no drugs for preventing serious COVID-19 and the PROTECT-CH trial is designed to test drugs that might reduce infection, hospital admission and death.”
Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to find the best treatments the world has to offer for COVID-19.
“It’s down to this dedication and the renowned expertise of British scientists, supported by taxpayers, that the UK was able to identify and rollout two lifesaving treatments for COVID-19 to NHS patients – dexamethasone and tocilizumab.
“The government is backing two more innovative UK-based clinical trials into effective therapeutics, this time specifically for the most vulnerable groups who need them most.
“We have been clear from the outset that it will be a combination of safe and effective vaccines, testing and therapeutics that will bring an end to this pandemic, and we will not rest until every individual in the country is protected against this awful disease.”