The steroid dexamethasone has been identified as the first drug to improve survival rates in coronavirus patients, according to a study carried out at Barts Health and Queen Mary University of London, as part of an urgent nationwide public health clinical trial.
The drug has already been recommended by Barts Health as a standard of care for COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen or more intensive care.
RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) was established in March 2020 as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, including low-dose dexamethasone (a corticosteroid).
Clinical research staff have to date enrolled more than 130 patients into the study across Barts Health hospitals, including The Nightingale, The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham. The trial is still open and recruiting COVID-19 patients from across east London.
Principal investigator for RECOVERY at Barts Health and infectious diseases consultant, Dr Simon Tiberi, said:
“We cannot effectively develop new treatments without research and, thanks to the RECOVERY trial, COVID-19 is a little less scary now.”
David Lieberman, trial manager for the study and senior research practitioner at The Royal London Hospital stated:
“The RECOVERY trial was set up within the Trust in record time and delivered by dozens of colleagues across many Barts Health hospitals and The Nightingale.
"I have never seen such a high level of engagement and collaboration and it is an honour to be involved with the trial and working with so many dedicated professionals.
"It is their hard work and dedication that has helped determine that dexamethasone could indeed save lives of some of our sickest patients.”
Professor Chloe Orkin, Clinical Lead for COVID-19 research at Barts Health hospitals said:
“We are proud to be delivering a range of COVID-19 trials at Barts Health. It is so important that our very diverse communities are offered the opportunity of taking part in potentially life-saving trials like RECOVERY.
"Our hospitals serve more than 2.6 million people in East London, many of whom are socially disadvantaged.”
The study, led by the University of Oxford, found that dexamethasone reduced the risk of dying by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.
Overall, dexamethasone reduced the risk of 28-day mortality by 17 per cent with a highly significant trend showing greatest benefit among those on ventilators. No evidence of benefit was found for patients who did not receive oxygen.