A “GROUND-BREAKING” trial looking for new ways to fight Covid-19 has launched in Southampton.

The national AGILE platform is aimed at fast-tracking potential new treatments through early phase clinical trials to help find drugs to prevent people becoming severely ill with the virus.

Up until now, the “pioneering” research has been recruiting patients from Liverpool, having launched in July 2020 and entered into patient trials in September.

Now though, researchers led by Southampton Clinical Trials Unit are calling on people across the South to help in the fight against the virus.

Trials are opening at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, based within University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Professor Gareth Griffiths, Director of the unit said they “rely” on volunteers to help see which treatments are most effective.

He added: “The UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme has been a huge success and has led to a decrease in infection and hospitalisation rates.

“However, it will not eradicate COVID-19 infections entirely and it is therefore essential that we continue to find treatments for those people who do contract the virus to prevent them from developing the most severe symptoms and protect them from future infections.”

The Government recently announced its support for the platform, awarding the project £3.2m worth of funding.

The money was awarded by the Medical Research Council and co-funded through the National Institute of Health Research, allowing AGILE’s activity to be expanded into more centres.

Professor Christopher Edwards, Associate Director of the Southampton CRF and Principal Investigator for AGILE in Southampton, said he is “delighted” patients are being recruited in the city.

“We hope that people across the south coast will be motivated to be involved in this ground-breaking research and help us to help find new treatments to combat this virus which has affected so many.”