Siriraj Institute of Clinical Research (SiCRES) COVID-19 Crisis Research Monitoring Project

COVID-19 brought us many lessons. Siriraj Hospital, the first and the largest hospital of the land responded and implemented many measures to halt the spread of the pandemic in all level. The more important question is how the “knowledge” be derived and applied to treat the disease; not just only the COVID-19 but all new emerging diseases. The answer is through the “Clinical Research.”

In May 2020, there were many Siriraj personnel including the executive board members joined the project as research volunteers on “COVID-19 Crisis Research Monitoring Project” at Siriraj Institute of Clinical Research (SiCRES). In this episode of Siriraj International Relations News, we are honored to have Prof. Kulkanya Chokephaibulkit, the Director of SiCRES and Professor of Pediatrics to share with us the importance of SiCRES during COVID-19 crisis and in what way the Clinical Research will be beneficial for everyone.

SiCRES is established to maximize the potential of clinical research facility and capability in Siriraj Hospital. “Because Siriraj has a large number of experts and clinicians but most of them have limited allocated time, that’s why SiCRES is set up to help facilitate clinical research for them.” Explained by Prof. Kulkanya. Nowadays, SiCRES has been conducting and supporting the clinicians more than 45 studies in various specialties and most of the clinical trials posed direct benefits to the subjects themselves. “Many of the studies that we are conducting provided the very crucial important knowledge to develop and improve the treatment or intervention to the patients .” Said Prof. Kulkanya.

COVID-19 Crisis Research Monitoring Project is one of the highlight studies that displayed the immediate action of Siriraj as the healthcare’s leader. Prof. Kulkanya explained “When the outbreak started, we had a very in-depth discussion among the research team, experts, and investigators. Then we initiated three important projects rapidly and these projects were the fastest protocol developed of all.”

The 1st project was set up to understand the outbreak situation particularly in the context of healthcare workers. “We studies seroprevalence in our frontline healthcare personnel and general healthcare workers in the hospital.” Explained Prof. Kulkanya. “When we understand more about the epidemiology and the COVID-19 outbreak situation, we then can manage the services process and preventive measure appropriately.”

The 2nd project is on the preventive measures of the household members of the patients who have confirmed COVID-19. “More than 70% of all the cases acquired the infection from their household members who came down with COVID-19 infection.” “When the 1st member in the household got the infection, the rest are at risk. We initiated the concept how to provide the pharmacological prevention for the rest household members by giving them chloroquine once weekly for two times and we believe that it is useful to prevent household members from the infection.”

The 3rd study is in the process of preparation which is the clinical trial on using Favipiravir which is the effective oral antiviral agent and hope for treatment of COVID-19. “We want to perform a clinical trial to the subjects who show-up early and are not having severe conditions in order to start the treatment early with mild symptoms and prevent them to progress to the severe stage.” In this project, SiCRES wants to discover the efficacy of the oral medicine which is in the affordable price and can be provided to the people who are at risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection. The benefit is that they can receive the treatment early before developing the severe disease. “If we have enough information, we can intervene very early and stop progression and assure that the patients will be safe,” explained Prof. Kulkanya.

There was a number of Thai people who feel worried about joining as research volunteers. “It is our obstacle that they don’t want to be guinea pigs and we can understand that because the result is still uncertain.” However, the great to mankind benefits in the bottom line, “If we’re not conducting the clinical trials, how can we proof that all treatment were effective?” “Our people must change their mindset that turning into volunteers are contributing highly to mankind and actually very safe because all trials are protecting the subjects as the priority and are reviewed by ethical committee (Institutional Review Board).” Another challenge is that as Thailand has been well controlling of COVID-19, the clinical trial has been run dry because there are few infected patients to participate in the studies.

From this, we can conclude that volunteers are the very important contributors to the knowledge in clinical research because without them, there will be no study and new knowledge. That is the reason why “Clinical Research” is for all.

SiCRES’ Goal

“In the future, we are thriving to become the 1st facility in Thailand who be able to conduct First in Human Trial (FIH) in Thailand and in the region!”

“SiCRES was set up for the benefits of the communities. Clinical Research is for the better tomorrow”