NNUH helps world’s largest Covid-19 trial make another big breakthrough

The world’s largest coronavirus treatment trial has found that baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis drug, reduces deaths in patients hospitalised for Covid-19 by around one-fifth.

The RECOVERY Trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has been investigating treatments for people hospitalised with Covid-19 since March 2020.

Almost 250 patients at NNUH have taken part in the trial so far.

Between February and December 2021, 4,008 patients nationally were randomly allocated to usual care alone and were compared with 4,148 patients who were randomly allocated to usual care plus baricitinib.

The dose of baricitinib was a 4mg tablet once daily for 10 days (or until discharge from hospital if sooner). Treatment with baricitinib significantly reduced deaths, with a reduction of 33 deaths compared to patients within the usual care group – from 546 to 513.

Since starting, the study has also discovered that dexamethasone, a steroid used to treat a wide range of health conditions, can help reduce deaths by one third among the sickest patients and that tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive drug, can further reduce the risk of death from severe Covid-19.

Dr Eleanor Mishra, NNUH Respiratory Consultant, said: “We are proud to be part of this trial which has already saved thousands of lives worldwide and is continuing to identify effective treatments for our patients.”

Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern, said: “We welcome the news of this latest breakthrough thanks to this vital research, carried out with immense dedication by our research teams alongside their multidisciplinary colleagues. Research breakthroughs such as this are not possible without the patients and their loved ones who volunteer to help. We are enormously grateful to every single person involved in the RECOVERY trial.”

The RECOVERY trial has recruited over 47,000 participants nationwide and is now considered the world’s largest clinical trial for Covid-19 treatments. To find out more, visit the RECOVERY trial website.