28 September 2020
To better understand what working on COVID-19 during the pandemic entails, we have interviewed RECOVER project member Wilma van Bentum-Puijk about her role in the project and day-to-day activities.
What is your role within RECOVER/in the COVID-19 pandemic and what it entails?
I am the Project Manager for REMAP-CAP since the beginning in 2014. REMAP-CAP is an adaptive platform trial, established as part of PREPARE. Since 2014, an international consortium has built this research-platform which was designed to be adapted during a pandemic.
In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, I am working on getting ethical and authority approvals, getting sites on board, and having medications available from pharmaceutical companies for our trials. This is very important as some medications are hard to get due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Could you tell us a little bit about the project/work you’re involved in?
My main task is to get as many sites as possible activated, interact with them and get good data quality. My daily work is to coordinate the activities within the REMAP-CAP study and maintain the contact with sites, pharmaceutical companies, ethic committees and authorities.
What is the expected impact of the work you’re doing?
We are currently investigating a set of treatments for COVID-19 (antibiotics, antivirals, immunomodulation, convalescent plasma, and vitamin C) in order to identify a single intervention, or a set of intervention, to combat the disease. We hope to find some answers quickly.
In the context of COVID-19, what are some of things you’ve found easy/challenging to work with?
Easy to work with?
Everyone is overwhelmed with the workload and sometimes it was hard to contact the sites.
Challenging to work with?
The work on COVID-19 was prioritized and the structure became more flexible. For example, it was easier to get ethic approvals and refilling an amendment took only one or two weeks.
Do you have any lessons to share for the future?
One of the most important lessons learned is that flexible and fast contracting is possible: now we are able to quickly create “country contracts” based on the template valid in a specific country. For instance, for the UK we made use of the NHS template (which is mandated for use by commissioners for all contracts for healthcare services other than primary care), we modified it just a little and contracting went very well.