A clinical team from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has been supporting national research which has proved a steroid can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus. The study showed that the steroid cut the risk of death by a third for COVID-19 patients on ventilators and by one fifth for those on oxygen treatment.
In March the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial was established as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, including low-dose dexamethasone (a steroid treatment). In April, the NDHT team joined the trial, led by Oxford University, as one of 175 hospitals taking part. The trial enrolled more than 11,500 patients in the UK.
Dr Roope Manhas, consultant rheumatologist and director of research at NDHT, said: “We should all feel very proud to have contributed to this very important national public health research study, which is informing medical practice in this field in both the UK and worldwide.
“The outcome of the Dexamethasone arm is a fantastic and welcome development for both current and future patients who may be affected by this awful disease.
“Hopefully we will see more positive outcomes for other treatments being trialled as part of this study very soon, thus widening treatment options whilst we await the development of a vaccine against COVID-19.”
Michal Lamparski, respiratory discharge facilitation pharmacist at North Devon District Hospital, added: “Participating in the RECOVERY trial felt like the right thing to do from day one. Being able to enrol the worst-hit COVID-19 patients into the trial was often the only way to give them back some of the control over their own life, often lost at the moment of admission.
“On many occasions it helped to reassure the family members, and sometimes even ourselves in our moments of doubt, that we are doing everything we possibly can to make our patients feel better. Working together across various healthcare professions towards a shared goal felt good and it gave us all a sense of belonging to a supportive community, so needed in these trying times.”
The UK government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: “This is tremendous news today from the Recovery trial showing that dexamethasone is the first drug to reduce mortality from COVID-19. It is particularly exciting as this is an inexpensive widely available medicine.
“This is a ground-breaking development in our fight against the disease, and the speed at which researchers have progressed finding an effective treatment is truly remarkable. It shows the importance of doing high quality clinical trials and basing decisions on the results of those trials.”
Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the trial, said: “Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
NDHT researchers were joined by the following NHS Trust members of the South West Peninsula Clinical Research Network: