From First Wave To Second, How UK's Recovery Trials Have Influenced What Doctors Prescribe To Treat Covid-19

From First Wave To Second, How UK's Recovery Trials Have Influenced What Doctors Prescribe To Treat Covid-19In March 2021, the UK government said that dexamethasone’s use has so far saved 22,000 lives in the country and an estimated 1 million lives globally.
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  • Two researchers from the University of Oxford, Martin Landray and Peter Horby, who designed this trial were shocked after they came to know that dexamethasone works and reduces coronavirus-caused deaths by one-third in hospitalised severe patients.

Starting in 2020, researchers in the United Kingdom carried out a ‘Recovery Trial’, involving tens of thousands of coronavirus patients admitted at several hospitals in the country, to investigate possible treatments for Covid-19.

The aim behind the trial, which kick started on 23 March 2020, was to find out whether a steroid called dexamethasone will help treat severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Last year based on the initial research — conducted between 19 March and 8 June — the experts found that the cheap and widely available drug had lowered the likelihood of death for the patients who needed oxygen or put under life support in hospitals.

Two researchers from the University of Oxford, Martin Landray and Peter Horby, who designed this trial were shocked after they came to know that dexamethasone works and reduces coronavirus-caused deaths by one-third in hospitalised severe patients.

Horby, who is the professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, believes that dexamethasone is the first drug that improved the survival of Covid patients.

“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide”, he added in a June 2020 press release.

After the data about the steroid was published, it became a part of the standard of care across the world.

In March 2021, the UK government said in a statement that dexamethasone’s use has so far saved 22,000 lives in the country and an estimated 1 million lives around the globe.

In The Search Of A Life Saver

Even though several countries including the UK have started to vaccine British people, millions of people around the world are likely to die before receiving a jab.

Needless to say, in such a situation, the best hope would be saving as many lives as possible using existing drugs that could treat Covid-19.

Dexamethasone is not the first drug that was chosen for a trial.

There were other therapies and Covid antivirals which were selected for trials but failed due to lack of satisfactory evidence.

Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ was one of those favourites which was once thought to be a game-changer, but is not now.

Last month, based on the findings of a new analysis, an international panel of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against the use of HCQ to prevent Covid-19.

But the Recovery Trial in the UK is not only massive but also convincing.

The Oxford researchers behind this trial claimed that dexamethasone could be of huge benefit in poorer countries with high numbers of infection cases.

The WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, congratulated the research team and called the steroid a "lifesaving scientific breakthrough".

However, after the first result about dexamethasone’s use came out last year, the trial has since identified another drug called Tocilizumab.

In February 2021, the findings of tocilizumab were published.

It revealed that the drug, largely when taken in tandem with dexamethasone, can reduce mortality for patients who were receiving oxygen or placed on a ventilator.

The report also claimed that tocilizumab also helped patients who developed severe Covid-19 symptoms be discharged from the hospital more quickly.

The Recovery Trial is the world’s biggest trial to find out an existing drug that could help to fight against the pandemic.

Over the past year, more than 35,000 patients have been enrolled in the Recovery Trial.

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