Two anti-inflammatory drugs, used to treat a range of conditions including arthritis, have found to reduce the risk of death in severe COVID-19 cases.
The two drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – were found to curb the mortality rate in people with severe COVID-19 by 8.5%, and also accelerated patients’ recovery time. The drugs also reduced the length of time that critically-ill patients spent in intensive care units by approximately a week.
"The UK has proven time and time again it is at the very forefront of identifying and providing the most promising, innovative treatments for its patients,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
"Today's results are yet another landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic and, when added to the armoury of vaccines and treatments already being rolled out, will play a significant role in defeating this virus,” he added.
The results come from the REMAP CAP study, which involves around 800 intensive care patients from six countries including the UK.
Another study – the RECOVERY trial – previously found that another medication, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated COVID-19 patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.
Based on these results, it was found that one death in eight ventilated patients would be prevented by dexamethasone treatment, or around 25 patients requiring oxygen only.
Dexamethasone has a relatively lower cost – around £5 per course – compared to tocilizumab and sarilumab, which cost around £750-£1000 per patient, according to the BBC.
However, lead researcher of the REMAP CAP study Professor Anthony Gordon commented: "For every 12 patients you treat with these drugs you would expect to save a life. It's a big effect."