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PM heralds COVID-19 drug breakthrough

PM heralds COVID-19 drug breakthrough

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has praised patients and researchers for their role in a study that led to the first NHS treatment to improve COVID-19 survival.

He announced 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.

It draws on results from the RECOVERY study, supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, which helped researchers set the study up and deliver in 176 UK hospitals.

The Prime Minister said yesterday (16 June): “I am delighted that the biggest breakthrough yet has been made by a fantastic team of scientists right here in the UK."

He added: “I am so proud of these British scientists, backed by UK Government funding, who have led the first robust clinical trial anywhere in the world to find a coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.

“And I am very grateful to the thousands of patients in this country who volunteered for the trials – thank you.

“This drug - dexamethasone – can now be made available across the NHS. And we have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak.

“Of course, while the chances of dying from Covid-19 have been significantly reduced by this treatment, they are still far too high. So we must redouble our research efforts and we certainly will.

“But today, there is genuine cause to celebrate a great, British achievement and the benefits it will bring not just in this country but around the world.”

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%.

Funded by the UK government, via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the trial is the first clinical trial in the world to show a treatment provides significant impact in reducing patient mortality. The NHS has stockpiles of the drug for 200,000 people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday (16 June): “I’m absolutely delighted that today we can announce the world’s first successful clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19. This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.

“From today the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.”