The first results from the world’s largest randomised trial of drugs to treat COVID-19 patients could be available in early July, one of the scientists leading the UK-based study called Recovery said on Tuesday.
The first data from the study, which is testing a selection of existing drugs, is likely to come from a type of steroid called low-dose Dexamethasone and used to reduce inflammation, said Martin Landray, professor of medicine and epidemiology in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.
The trial has so far enrolled 11,000 patients ranging from one to 109 years of ages at 175 UK hospitals since it was set up in March, he told reporters at a briefing.
“There is unlikely to be a single big win” from the trials, which is why the project is testing several existing medicines to see if they might be able to be repurposed to help treat COVID-19, he said.
“At the moment we really don’t have any treatments, so the first results will give us a guide,” he said.
Other medicines being tested are the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir-Ritonavir, which is used to treat HIV, an antibiotic called Azithromycin and convalescent plasma, which is collected from people who have recovered from the virus and contains antibodies against it.
England’s Chief Medical Officer has hailed a finding that steroid drug dexamethasone can save the lives of those severely ill with COVID-19 as the most important trial result so far, as scientists seek effective treatments for the new disease.
“This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far,” Chris Whitty said on Twitter about the findings of the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY.
“Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug… It will save lives around the world.”