A ground-breaking COVID-19 treatment that has been launched on the NHS will help save thousands of lives, the government has said.
The anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, is the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.
Funded by the UK government, 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 anywhere in the world to show a treatment provides significant impact in reducing patient mortality.
The drug has been proven to reduce the risk of death significantly in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35% and patients on oxygen by 20%, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17%.
Researchers have said up to 5,000 lives could have been saved if the drug had been introduced at the start of the UK’s pandemic.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the world’s first successful clinical trial of the treatment was an “astounding breakthrough”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was cause to celebrate “a remarkable British scientific achievement”.
The government’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty tweeted: “This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug. Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world.”