Lifesaving research trial recruits 200th patient at NNUH

A research trial, which is helping to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic, has recruited its 200th patient at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) clinical trial, which is run by researchers in Oxford and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has added the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab to the armoury of treatments that help reduce the risk of death for hospitalised patients with severe Covid-19.

This comes after the use of the steroid dexamethasone was found to help treat patients in hospital with coronavirus last year.

The study is a large, randomised controlled trial of possible treatments for patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19. NNUH joined the trial in March last year.

Dr Eleanor Mishra, NNUH Respiratory Consultant, said: “The results of the RECOVERY study have already saved the lives of patients in Norfolk and around the world. This new result will mean even more lives are saved in the future. The recruitment of 200 patients at NNUH is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our research team. We would like to thank the patients who gave their time to this research when they were unwell themselves.”

Last year, the RECOVERY study was the world’s first to show that dexamethasone – a cheap and available steroid – reduces the risk of dying from COVID-19. The latest results from the study also suggests that for Covid-19 patients who have significant inflammation and require oxygen, a combination of a systemic corticosteroid – such a dexamethasone – alongside tocilizumab reduces mortality by about one third for patients requiring simple oxygen and nearly one-half for those requiring invasive mechanical ventilation.

Tim Fiddy, from Norwich, joined the RECOVERY trial last May and received tocilizumab after being admitted for treatment at NNUH. The 59-year-old, who is an emergency care practitioner for IC24, spent ten days at the hospital after Covid-19 affected his breathing.

“I did not hesitate in joining the research trial and I am happy that it will help others in the future. Tocilizumab has produced very positive signs and it is one of the ones that is more proactive and seems to be very encouraging.

“The treatment I received at the hospital was very good. Covid-19 is so debilitating and it felt like having glue in my lungs and struggling to get the oxygen in. I still get a bit breathless and fatigued but it has improved a lot over the last month.”