East and North Herts NHS Trust plays part in groundbreaking successful COVID-19 drugs trial

PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 June 2020

The steroid dexamethasone has been identified as improving survival rates in patients with COVID-19 and experiencing respiratory problems

The steroid dexamethasone has been identified as improving survival rates in patients with COVID-19 and experiencing respiratory problems


The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has played a part in a groundbreaking clinical trial which has found the first drug to improve survival rates in certain coronavirus patients.

It was announced on Tuesday that public health study RECOVERY - Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapy - has identified a steroid that improves survival rates in patients with respiratory problems.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust - which runs Stevenage’s Lister Hospital and Welwyn Garden City’s New QEII Hospital - had 24 patients taking part in the study, which was established in March to test a range of potential treatments for COVID-19.

The UK-wide trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, saw more than 11,500 patients randomised to treatment arms including a commonly-used antibiotic, a drug used to treat HIV, and an anti-inflammatory given by injection.

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The trial found that steroid dexamethasone - typically used to reduce inflammation - reduced the risk of dying by one third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only. There was no benefit among those who did not need respiratory intervention.

Phillip Smith, associate director for research and development at the East and North Herts NHS Trust, said: “We are very proud to have played a part in this trial, which hopefully will lead to fewer families losing loved ones to COVID-19.

“A huge thank you to the patients who took part and to everyone within the trust who has made this happen. It has been a real team effort.”

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer and co-leader of NIHR, said: “This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. It shows significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely-available, safe and well-known drug. We should all be grateful to the patients who volunteered and those who made this trial possible. It will save lives around the world.”

Prof Nick Lemoine, chair of the NIHR’s urgent public health group and medical director of the NIHR’s clinical research network, said: “This shows how UK research is truly at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus,” pointing to “meaningful breakthroughs in unprecedented time frames”.

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