Life-saving new Covid-19 treatments announced for NHS patients

7 January 2021, 16:00

NHS Covid-19 patients will be getting new treatments which can reduce death by up to 24%
NHS Covid-19 patients will be getting new treatments which can reduce death by up to 24%. Picture: Getty

By Kate Buck

Patients admitted into UK hospitals with Covid-19 are set to receive new life-saving treatments, the Government has announced.

Tocilizumab and sarilumab have been found to reduce the risk of death for those admitted into ICU by up to 24%, and can reduce the time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.

The drugs are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but clinical trials have shown they are most effective to treat coronavirus when administered within 24 hours of them being admitted to intensive care.

Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone - the use which was also discovered through UK clinical trials and is now a standard form of care among the NHS.

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It is hoped that the rollout of these drugs could significantly reduce the pressure on the NHS, which is feared to almost be at capacity in many areas of the country due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.  

“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.  

“We have worked quickly to ensure this treatment is available to NHS patients without delay, meaning hundreds of lives will be saved.

“I am hugely proud of the significant role our NHS and its patients have played in this international trial, and grateful to the outstanding scientists and clinicians behind REMAP-CAP who have brought this treatment to our patients.”  

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “This is a significant step forward for increasing survival of patients in intensive care with COVID-19. The data shows that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab, speed up and improve the odds of recovery in intensive care, which is crucial for helping to relieve pressure on intensive care and hospitals and saving lives. 

“This is evidence of the UK’s excellent research infrastructure and life sciences industry advancing global understanding of this disease, which we have done both through our own programme of clinical research and through our ability to make very large contributions to international studies.”