Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: The DAWN Antivirals trial was a multicentric, randomised placebo-controlled trial evaluating antiviral medication for COVID-19 in general practice. The trial was prematurely terminated because of insufficient recruitment. AIM: To explore which factors contributed to the premature termination. DESIGN & SETTING: General practice in Belgium. METHOD: Patients were randomized to camostat or placebo (blinded) between June 2021 and July 2022); a third arm evaluating molnupiravir (open label) was opened in March 2022. We analysed available trial data and evaluated trial context, implementation and mechanisms of impact based on semi-structured interviews with trial stakeholders. RESULTS: The trial recruited 44 participants; 19 were allocated to camostat (median age 55 years), 8 to molnupiravir (median age 60 years) and 17 to placebo (median age 56 years). There were no serious adverse events in either group. Most difficulties were related to the pandemic context: disruption to routine clinical services; multiple changes to the service model for COVID-19 patients; overwhelmed clinical staff; delays of trial medication; staff shortages in the sponsor and clinical team. In addition, regulatory approval processes were lengthy and led to additional study procedures. It was felt that the trial started too late, when vaccinations had already begun. CONCLUSION: The DAWN Antivirals trial was stopped prematurely. Although many barriers were related to the pandemic itself, hurdles such as small and inexperienced sponsor and clinical teams, delays in regulatory processes and research capacity in routine settings could be overcome by established research infrastructure and standardization of processes.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



COVID-19, antiviral, primary health care, trial