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Urgent Research Appeal: Arthritis and COVID-19 Response

We’re launching an urgent research project and we need your help

How do arthritis patients react to COVID-19?

You may have heard about some small-scale research studies testing whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — drugs commonly used by people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus — are effective at treating COVID-19.

We urgently need a large-scale, well-designed research project to examine the connections between these drugs and COVID-19 and to determine what it means for people with arthritis, who have immune systems that leave them vulnerable to infections.

The research could save the lives of people with and without arthritis in Canada and around the world.

A team of Canadian researchers is uniquely positioned to launch this research. And they are anxious to get going.

We need your help to get them started.

We need to raise $300,000 to get the research off the ground today, and to support other research like it that focuses on the body’s internal defense mechanisms.

The initiative will also accelerate and invest in 12 immune system projects currently underway with $1.5 million in Arthritis Society funding. This research is critical to uncovering the molecular markers involved in arthritis and how the immune system responds under stress.

We can learn a lot from arthritis patients already taking these medications.

“ This research presents a unique and urgent opportunity for our national team of investigators to help people with arthritis, but also to use what we learn to help Canadians in general and people worldwide."
~ Dr. Paul R. Fortin, lead researcher

The researchers need to start soon. Donate now and lead the way to launching this critical Canadian research.

The researchers — who come from leading hospitals and universities across the country — will follow 3,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to determine if those who are currently taking chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat their arthritis symptoms are affected differently by the novel coronavirus (and other infections like it), compared to those not taking the drugs.

This research will create a library of biological samples that will also be used to test emerging questions like: How do genetic differences in people impact the severity of disease? And, how will compromised immune systems react to a new vaccine?

Canada is uniquely suited to launch this research because the country is home to several established research studies that follow people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus already taking these medications, and we have an established bank of blood samples from them. And because the blood samples from these patients were collected in previous years — before the COVID-19-causing coronavirus emerged — the researchers have a solid baseline to see who becomes infected with the virus and how the drugs affect the disease.

Simply put, Canadian researchers can conduct this research quickly, safely, accurately and collaboratively across the country — without adding any new strain to the supplies of these drugs, as these patients are already taking them.

Once the current wave of COVID-19 infections passes, we can expect at least a second if not third wave of the disease. And, a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is at least one year away.

Early findings from this study could help demonstrate the importance of chloroquine and/or hydroxychloroquine at preventing COVID-19 before a vaccine becomes available, meaning we could save lives sooner.

Help lead the way.


Yes, I will lead the way to launch this urgent research.


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