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The SCTO is an independent organisation and is based on a joint initiative of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

As of 2017, the SCTO is a research infrastructure of national importance funded by the State Secretariat of Education, Research and Innovation and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Swiss contribution to EU-funded research initiative EU-RESPONSE
Swiss participation in the international SOLIDARITY trial
How are the Clinical Trial Units of our network involved?
An example of a Swiss multicentre trial to combat COVID-19
Overview of submitted clinical trials and research projects
Recommendations for the treatment of patients within clinical trials

EU Commission supports international clinical research network to treat COVID-19 

An ambitious new EU-funded research initiative, EU-RESPONSE (EUropean RESearch and Preparedness netwOrk for pandemics and emerging iNfectious diseaSEs), will establish a clinical research network to treat COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases. The Commission announced on 18 September 2020 that it will support the project with €15.7 million.

The EU-RESPONSE consortium, led by the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), brings together 21 partners with world-class research capabilities from 13 EU countries, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, to build a European network for adaptive platform trials (APTs) for COVID-19 and emerging infectious diseases. APTs have an innovative randomised controlled trial design, which enables various therapies for a disease to be studied simultaneously.

The SCTO is the project partner for Switzerland through its observer status in the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN) that will play a role in the realisation of the project’s key objectives.

Read more about the project EU-RESPONSE:

Updated on 19 February 2021

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Swiss participation in the international SOLIDARITY trial

SOLIDARITY is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners. In Switzerland, 17 hospital centres are involved in the trial; the Lausanne University Hospital’s Clinical Trial Unit coordinates their involvement. 

An update on the latest developments is available further below in our COVID-19 section How are the Clinical Trial Units of our network involved?

How are the Clinical Trial Units in our network involved?

Since March 2020, all Clinical Trial Units (CTUs) at our member institutions have been supporting research activities related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some of the CTUs are involved in supporting international COVID-related research projects. 

Patient care comes first
CTUs have needed – and might continue – to prioritise and reallocate resources in order to help researchers who are addressing this urgent situation. This can include redirecting staff in order to support other activities in the hospitals, for example clinical care or administrative work.

Questions about ongoing research projects
CTU staff are available to answer questions about how to manage your ongoing projects. 
Researchers interested in conducting studies on COVID-19 can contact their local CTU.

See also our COVID-19 sections Recommendations for the treatment of patients within clinical trials and Overview of submitted clinical trials and research projects

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DKF Basel

The Department of Clinical Research (DKF) offers coordinative and practical support. In addition, local research activities are registered at the DKF. If you would like to learn more about collaborating partners, please contact the DKF. Specific information can be found at COVID-19 research. As of 28 October 2020, 38 trials related to COVID-19 have been registered at the University Hospital Basel. While 13 of these trials are already running, 25 have not yet started.

The DKF also initiated a joint project with the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (USA) and other international partners to create COVID-evidence, a non-profit database with the evidence available worldwide on interventions for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. This expanded database is continuously updated and freely available at COVID-evidence has recently received funding through the SNSF’s special call for projects on coronaviruses.

CTU Bern

Inselspital and the University of Bern collaborate closely with the universities of Basel, Zurich, Lausanne, and ETH Zurich. The CTU Bern is currently supporting a clinical trial that is still open and has patients with progressing COVID-19.

The CTU Bern also actively supports the WHO’s global SOLIDARITY trial and supports the CTU Lausanne in coordinating Swiss trial sites. Furthermore, the unit is involved in several local observational studies and a spatial epidemiology project that aims to map the distribution of COVID-19 cases in Switzerland.

CTU-EOC Lugano

The CTU-EOC is involved in coordinating and supporting COVID-19 trials. Furthermore, the CTU EOC is promoting, coordinating, and supporting database studies related to COVID-19 and seroprevalence and cellular immunity studies on healthcare workers and the general population with repeated time points. A scientific committee, chaired by the CTU’s director, has been established to coordinate, evaluate, and prioritise research projects related to COVID-19.

CRC Geneva

The CRC Geneva is actively applying its expertise in the fight against COVID-19. The CRC supports international, national, and local COVID-19 trials and is involved in 31 trials related to COVID-19.

All of the CRC's resources are allocated to therapeutic clinical trials, cohort studies, or retrospective studies. The whole team, including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, clinical research associates, monitors, biostatisticians, data managers, and administrative staff, is collaborating with scientists to investigate COVID-19 infections and test the safety and efficacy of innovative treatments.

CRC Lausanne

Since 27 October, non-COVID-19-related research activities at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) involving collaborators with clinical duties have been put on hold in order to free human resources for patients care. Research projects related to COVID-19 and therapeutic clinical trials are continued and coordinated at the hospital services level.

The CRC Lausanne continues to support interventional and observational studies within the above framework. It supports local investigators participating in CanCovDia, a multicentric, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial sponsored and coordinated by the University Hospital Basel (Prof. M. Donath). The aim of the study is to evaluate Canakinumab's added value in patients with COVID-19 and Type 2 diabetes.

In parallel, the CRC carries on coordination for the SOLIDARITY trial consortium in Switzerland. The WHO published interim results of the international study in mid-October (see link to preprint below). The repurposed antiviral drugs Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir, and Interferon tested appeared to have little or no effect on hospitalised COVID-19 patients, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay. An amendment to the protocol was recently submitted to the authorities to modify the tested treatments and add an immunomodulator drug as a new intervention arm. Remdesivir allocation will continue in order to close the debate on its efficacy. swissethics has already approved the amended protocol and the decision of Swissmedic is pending. The WHO is also evaluating the possibility of testing monoclonal antibodies in a future step.

Link to preprint, posted on 15 October 2020 on medRxiv:
Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19 – interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial results
Link to WHO's website, for frequent international updates on SOLIDARITY:
“Solidarity” clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments

CTU St.Gallen

The CTU St.Gallen is currently supporting two prospective cohort studies about seroprevalence, symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19 among healthcare workers. One study (with Kantonsspital St.Gallen (KSSG) employees) is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the other study (including 24 healthcare institutions in Eastern Switzerland) is funded by the participating cantons and institutions. In addition, the CTU is involved in a retrospective study comparing characteristics of patients hospitalised at KSSG for COVID-19 and seasonal influenza until May 2020.

CTC Zürich

The University Hospital Zürich, in close collaboration with the EOC, started one of the first drug trials against COVID-19. In addition, the CTC Zurich is working closely with the Infectiology Department to track and coordinate all COVID projects, clinical and other, to minimise the burden on patients.

Furthermore, the University Hospital Zurich partnered closely with Zurich’s blood donation centre BSZ and the Institute of Medical Virology (IMV) to start the first clinical trial to evaluate passive immunisation of high-risk patients with SARS-CoV-2 using plasma from recovered donors. The Angiology Department initiated the first multicentre clinical trial to validate the use of anti-coagulation in non-hospitalised patients with COVID in an outpatient setting across all five Swiss university hospitals.

Members of the research community across all universities on the University of Zurich’s campus, including the ETH, UZH, and USZ, are combining their efforts to rapidly gain insight into mechanism and cell communication as the basis for future treatment and vaccine development. For this purpose, the CTC Zürich has recently established a biobank with COVID-2 samples and materials and is coordinating the informed consent process for COVID patients. This growing sample collection serves as a bio resource for both the current and future needs of COVID researchers in the medical and scientific communities.

Updated on 9 November 2020

The CORON-ACT study: An example of a Swiss multicentre trial to combat COVID-19

The CORON-ACT study was a Swiss multicentre randomised controlled trial (RCT) aimed at combatting COVID-19. Coordinated by the CTU Bern, the CORON-ACT study was conducted in Lausanne, Lugano, and Zurich. However, as the number of serious cases of COVID-19 in Switzerland fell significantly soon after the start of the study, later studies on the effects of tocilizumab from other countries provided earlier results. The CORON-ACT study was therefore stopped.

"It was very important to have the CTU."
In an online interview with the SCTO in June 2020, Prof. Peter Villiger, Chairman and Head of the Department of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergology at the University Hospital Bern (Inselspital) and principle investigator of the study, explained the aim of the trial, shared his experience with the regulatory process, discussed the collaboration with the CTU Bern, and outlined the main issues the study had faced until then.

Link to the online video on Vimeo, first published on 12 June 2020:
The CORON-ACT study

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Overview of submitted clinical trials and research projects

Covid-19 Project Registry
The Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) COVID-19 project database provides the public with an overview of the of research on COVID-19 funded by the SNSF, by Innosuisse, or within the European Framework programme Horizon 2020 with Swiss participation.

Link to the SNSF's website: 
Covid-19 Project Registry

Clinical trials and research projects
A list of submitted, but not yet approved, clinical trials and research projects on COVID-19 in Switzerland is available on the website of the Swiss Association of Research Ethics Committees (swissethics).

Link to swissethics' website:
Clinical trials and research projects on COVID-19 in Switzerland

Recommendations for the treatment of patients within clinical trials

Swissmedic and swissethics published a joint document which describes the most important recommendations for the treatment of patients in clinical trials of medicinal products.

For the current version, visit Swissmedic’s website:
Joint Guidance of Swissmedic and swissethics on the management of clinical trials with medicinal drug products in Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic


Photo by CDC on Unsplash