The ASAP Trial


The ASAP Trial: Improving flu patient treatment in hospitals during pandemics


The ASAP (Adjuvant Steroids in Adults with Pandemic Influenza) trial is a scientific study looking at improving the treatment of patients that are admitted to hospital with “flu” during a pandemic.

What is a flu pandemic?

Influenza pandemics are natural phenomena that have occurred from time to time for centuries – including three times during the 20th century. They result when a new flu virus which is different to recently circulating strains emerges meaning that very few people have any protection against the virus. The virus can therefore spread easily and can cause more serious illness. Unlike ‘ordinary flu’ that occurs every winter in the UK, pandemic flu can occur at any time of the year and seasonal flu injections do not protect people against pandemic flu.

During a pandemic it is expected that many millions of people around the world will become infected, up to around 50% become ill with symptoms, and a variable proportion die from the disease itself or from complications such as pneumonia. The worst pandemic of the last century occurred over 1918 to 1919. Often referred to as “Spanish flu”, it killed between 20 to 40 million people worldwide.

What is the ASAP Flu Trial about?

Some studies have shown that a steroid drug called dexamethasone helps people with pneumonia or severe ‘blood poisoning’ and we think that it may also help patients with pandemic flu but we are not sure. We are therefore trying to find out whether this treatment given in addition to the normal flu treatment will help adults who are admitted to hospital with flu during a pandemic.

Where will the trial take place?

The ASAP Flu Trial will take place in several hospitals throughout the United Kingdom. Adults who are admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms during a flu pandemic will be given the opportunity to take part in the trial.

It is planned for 2200 patients to take part in the trial and we will be looking to see how much the treatment has helped patients with flu and hopefully improve the treatment for pandemic flu patients in the future.


The ASAP trial is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is being co-ordinated by the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit.

Please note that this trial has not yet started. We are currently in the process of setting up the trial so that patients can participate in the trial from the start of the next flu pandemic. This website will be updated continually; please refer back to this page for updates on the progress of the trial.

The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HTA programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.

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