New drug combo that slashes Covid death risk by up to half available on NHS

A BREAKTHROUGH drugs combo slashes the risk of Covid death by up to half in the sickest patients.

Leading medics hailed the latest findings as “beyond our wildest dreams”.

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Hospitalised Brits given arthritis drug tocilizumab alongside dexamethasone saw their chances of dying fall between a third and nearly a half.

It also slashed their length of stay by around five days, according to data from the world’s largest trial on potential coronavirus therapies.

The NHS will immediately start rolling out tocilizumab to eligible patients – with officials saying it will save thousands of lives over the course of the pandemic.

Joint chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial Professor Peter Horby said the “30 to 50 per cent [reduction on mortality] is actually beyond our wildest dreams in terms of what we thought we would achieve”.

He added: “The double impact of dexamethasone plus tocilizumab is impressive and very welcome."

The trial, on more than 4,000 Brit patients hospitalised with Covid, found one infusion of the £500 arthritis drug cut mortality by 14 per cent.

But when combined with a £5 course of the steroid dexamethasone, the effect was much larger.


Fellow joint chief investigator Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: “The results clearly show the benefits of tocilizumab and dexamethasone in tackling the worst consequences of Covid – improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators.

“Used in combination, the impact is substantial.

“This is good news for patients and good news for the health services that care for them in the UK and around the world.”

Experts said around half of hospitalised patients would benefit from the new treatment combination.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Today’s excellent news is further proof the UK is at the forefront of the global mission to find safe and effective treatments for this terrible virus.

“I want to thank all those who have played a part in generating these tremendous results – from the British scientists and researchers behind the trial, to the thousands of patients who took part across the country.

“We are working quickly and closely with colleagues across the health system and sector to ensure every NHS patient who needs this treatment should be able to access it – reducing further pressures on the NHS and potentially saving thousands of lives.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “These results present another important advance in our fight against Covid and are good news for patients and clinicians around the world – it’s a combination of both effective therapeutics and vaccines that will mean an end to this pandemic.

“This data means many more patients in hospital with Covid will have access to a proven treatment, speeding up their recovery and reducing the risk of mortality significantly.”


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