The NIHR-funded and supported study RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) has announced that the steroid dexamethasone has been identified as the first drug to improve survival rates in certain coronavirus patients.
RECOVERY was established in March 2020 as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, including low-dose dexamethasone (a corticosteroid). As an urgent public health study, the trial has been prioritised for delivery across the UK by the NIHR. Through the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network, over 11,500 patients have so far been enrolled into RECOVERY from over 175 NHS hospitals in the UK.
A total of 2104 patients were randomised to dexamethasone once per day for ten days and were compared with 4321 patients randomised to usual care alone. Among the usual care control group, 28-day mortality was highest in those on ventilators (41%), intermediate in those on oxygen only (25%), and lowest among those who were not receiving any respiratory intervention (13%).
The study, conducted at the University of Oxford and led by Professor Peter Horby and Professor Martin Landray, found that dexamethasone 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.