World first coronavirus treatment approved for NHS use by government

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The government has immediately authorised the NHS to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine

The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine

The government has immediately authorised the NHS to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

Following successful clinical trials, mortality reductions of 20% was found for those on oxygen and a 35% risk reduction of mortality for ventilated patients, , reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17%.

Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, from today.

Funded by the UK government to the tune of £2.1m, via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Oxford University UK RECOVERY trial is the first clinical trial to show a treatment with a significant impact in reducing patient mortality.

The government has taken action to secure supplies of dexamethasone in the UK, buying additional stocks ahead of time in the event of a positive trial outcome. This means there is already enough treatment for over 200,000 people from stockpiles alone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “From today the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.

“Guided by the science, the UK is leading the way in the global fight against coronavirus – with the best clinical trials, the best vaccine development and the best immunology research in the world.

“I want to thank the brilliant scientists at Oxford University, the thousands of patients who took part in the study, and my own team, led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who has done such a brilliant job driving this work.”

The drug has also been added to the government’s parallel export list, which bans companies from buying medicines meant for UK patients and selling them on for a higher price in another country. This will protect supply for UK patients by enforcing regulatory action on those who flout the restrictions.

With over 11,500 patients enrolled, it was and is the largest randomised clinical trial anywhere in the world and will continue to trial other medicines, such as azithromycin and lopinavir-ritonavir.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said: “The RECOVERY trial is an outstanding example of the UK leading the world with an impressive study capable of delivering robust answers to critical questions. Although these data have not yet been peer-reviewed.

“The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine. Together these 2 results illustrate the power of properly conducted clinical trials and the inherent danger of assuming things work without robust data.

“Whilst tempting to do otherwise, it is always better to wait for the evidence. On the dexamethasone findings, this is very encouraging because the signal on reduced mortality applies to many of the patients admitted to hospitals and the drug is comparatively low priced and available worldwide.”

The vital information collected by UK researchers will also be used by other countries to reduce mortality rates worldwide.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.