COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre

COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre

There are too many unanswered questions

Wesley Medical Research is committed to conducting critically needed research to fight COVID-19, which is why we have established the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre.

The Centre comprises a dedicated team of world-leading researchers and healthcare professionals who are committed to conducting research that delivers immediate improvements to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of COVID-19. 

By establishing strong collaborations with hospitals and research institutions in Australia and around the world, the Centre will contribute to the global understanding of COVID-19 and arm experts with the answers that they need to battle the virus.

Research conducted as part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre is already making an impact.

Our Research Focus

Improve understanding of the disease

Identify methods of protection and prevention

Discover new treatments and improve patient management

Collaborate with local, national and international researchers and healthcare professionals

Active COVID-19 Research Program

COVID-19 Research Projects that Urgently Need Funding

About the Research Projects

"Without data, we are driving blindfolded at 100 km/hr – with intensive care patients in the vehicle."
- Prof John Fraser

Global characterisation of 2019 novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (COVID Critical)

Prof John Fraser and A/Prof Gianluigi Li Bassi

Prof John Fraser, Director of the Intensive Care Unit at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, is leading a global research study called COVID Critical, which involves over 280 centres across more than 40 countries. 

To date, there has been little reliable information on how best to care for COVID-19 patients in intensive care units; particularly the most vulnerable people.

In this project, medical experts from across the globe will share critical insights, experience and expertise about COVID-19 patients are being treated in their hospitals. As the global lead, Dr Fraser’s research team will analyse this information in real time here in Brisbane to understand which of the treatments work best in different patients and in different scenarios across the world. 

Real data will be collected in real time to inform the treatment of patients now.

This will provide desperately needed evidence to inform decisions on patient care in local intensive care units – including:

  • how and when ventilators should be used to minimise demand on this scarce resource
  • which drugs are showing promising results in treating COVID-19
  • what techniques can be used to better treat patients
  • what new ideas does the global medical community have to treat critically-ill patients and how can these ideas be tested quickly.

The Wesley Medical Research Rapid Response Research Centre will ensure that crucial data can be obtained from, and used in, our UnitingCare hospitals and beyond.

The Wesley Medical Research Rapid Response Research Centre is proudly working locally in collaboration with The Common Good.


Australasian COVID-19 Trial (ASCOT) to assess patient outcomes in COVID-19 patients treated with lopinavir/ritonavir and/or hydroxychloroquine compared to standard of care

Prof David Paterson and Dr Andrew Burke

Prof David Paterson, Infectious Diseases Physician at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, is determined to find a cure for COVID-19 using medicines that already exist.

As part of a national collaboration, Prof Paterson is leading an innovative clinical trial at multiple sites in Queensland which aims to determine whether two anti-viral treatments – already approved for use in patients with malaria and HIV – are effective in treating COVID-19, either alone or in combination. 

“We know that in the test tube and in the patients that have been studied so far they’ve been able to recover and there’s no more evidence of virus in [their] system,” says Prof Patterson.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Research Centre will expand the trial to more sites and ensure that outcomes will provide a direct benefit to patients from UnitingCare hospitals such as The Wesley Hospital and St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital.

This means that the clinical trial will reach its target of enrolling 2400 patients across Australia faster, and that we can find answers sooner. 

"There's certainly positive signals either this HIV drug or this anti-malaria drug actually work really well against COVID-19." - Prof David Paterson

Funding is urgently needed to ensure the following research can commence.
We need your help today to stop COVID-19.

"it is critical that we protect our frontline healthcare workers against infection with COVID-19 to ensure they can continue caring for our most vulnerable patients."
- Prof Bala Venkatesh

Protecting Frontline Healthcare Workers
against COVID-19

Prof Bala Venkatesh | Director ICU |The Wesley Hospital

Our frontline healthcare workers are the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Every day, they come face-to-face with the enemy that is COVID-19; putting their own lives at risk in order to save the lives of others. 

Alarmingly, in the 2003 SARS pandemic, healthcare workers accounted for 21% of global cases.

With no proven treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, and a concerning shortage of protective equipment around the world, it is critical that we protect our frontline healthcare workers against infection with COVID-19 to ensure they can continue caring for our most vulnerable patients.

Prof Bala Venkatesh, Director of the Intensive Care Unit at The Wesley Hospital, urgently needs to commence research to determine whether a safe, low-cost, orally available agent known as hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) will prevent COVID-19 infection in healthcare workers.

HCQ has shown promising biological efficacy in preventing COVID-19 infection in previous research and this knowledge now needs to be applied to a large multi-site clinical trial.

Aiming to enrol up to 7000 frontline healthcare workers exposed to patients with known or suspected COVID-19, this clinical trial will provide the answers that we need to ensure our health services are able to cope with the unprecedented demands of this global crisis.

Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Patients with reduced heart function.

Dr John Rivers | Cardiologist | St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital

We know from cases around the world that patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who have pre-existing medical conditions face significantly increased risks of life-threatening complications and death.

Patients with reduced heart function may be particularly at risk as data indicates that severe COVID-19 infections can cause heart muscle damage and heart failure. 

It is essential that we better understand the impact of COVID-19 on these vulnerable patients.

Dr John Rivers, a Cardiologist at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, aims to answer this important question by conducting a novel research project involving 100 patients with reduced heart function who are diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Using smartphone technology to avoid the need to attend healthcare facilities, the impact of COVID-19 infection on measured heart function and symptoms of heart failure will be monitored over a period of six months. 

The data obtained in the study will identify patients with COVID-19 who are at high risk of deterioration in heart function and will establish effective strategies for early intervention to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in these high-risk patients.

"This study will help establish early intervention strategies to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on these high risk patients - Dr John Rivers

More to explore

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