Thanks to the ground-breaking work of RECOVERY, clinicians treating patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 now have two treatments that are known to improve survival. From having no known effective drugs when the pandemic first erupted, patients are now offered treatments that have been robustly proven to reduce death and improve other outcomes, such as the length of hospital stay and the need for mechanical ventilation.
The trial’s Chief Investigators, Professor Peter Horby and Professor Martin Landray, designed the trial quickly to investigate the effects of previously known drugs on COVID-19. The trial was rolled out in hospitals across the UK, a partnership that proved essential when treatments were found to work on COVID-19. Working so closely with the NHS allowed patients to immediately have access to effective treatments when the study data confirmed what was working, and alternatively to stop any treatment that was found to be ineffective.
The first breakthrough in the RECOVERY trial came within three months – the finding that the cheap steroid dexamethasone saves the lives of hospitalised patients. Within its first year, RECOVERY also identified another beneficial treatment, the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab, besides ruling out four candidate therapies. The trial continues to investigate a range of treatments, and recently launched RECOVERY International, to evaluate COVID-19 therapies that may be suitable for low-resource countries.