PATIENTS from Warrington Hospital have taken part in the University of Oxford COVID-19 RECOVERY trial which started in March 2020 and is reducing death rates by up to one third.
A randomised clinical trial involving more than 11,500 patients from hospitals all over the UK has tested a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, including low-dose dexamethasone (a steroid treatment).
It was announced that treatment with dexamethasone reduces death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19.
Among participants receiving oxygen alone, the risk of death was reduced by 20% and among participants receiving ventilation on ITU the risk of death was reduced by 35%.
Dr Mithun Murthy, consultant and respiratory clinical lead explained: “We enrolled our first patients from Warrington and Halton on 21st April. On the 8th June, recruitment to the dexamethasone arm was stopped as sufficient patients had been enrolled to establish that the drug had a meaningful benefit, according to the trial Steering Committee.
“This has all been done at incredible speed and the results are very significant. They have immediate implications around the world for the clinical treatment of many thousands of patients currently in hospital receiving oxygen.
“It is highly likely that such treatment will be recommended as standard care for hospitalised patients with COVID-19 receiving oxygen.
“This doesn’t happen in clinical research very often. The process to take an idea to clinical practice typically takes many years, and most never get anywhere. Stopping part of a study early because of ‘obvious’ results is also relatively unusual. The good news is that Dexamethasone is an inexpensive, widely available drug; currently used in a variety of different circumstances so can be used to save lives quickly.
“It also highlights the importance of a well-designed clinical trial with adequate number of recruited patients, as initial, anecdotal reports coming from overseas at the start of the pandemic were not favourable towards the use of steroids. But, this world-leading, randomised clinical trial has shown clear benefits.”
Simon Constable, the hospital’s chief executive added: “I am delighted that we have mobilised all that we can as a Trust to participate in this study and we extend a big thank you to our patients and staff including our clinical research team and pharmacy.”
The hospital previously hit the headlines when medics at Warrington collaborated to modify and adapt a black box normally used to treat sleep apnoea, fitting it with a more sophisticated face mask and oxygen and in doing so, replicated the Rolls Royce-hospital CPAP version.