New life-saving treatments to cut Covid-19 recovery time

Patients across the UK who are admitted to intensive care units due to COVID-19 are set to receive new life-saving treatments which can reduce the time spent in hospital by up to 10 days, the government has announced today (Thursday 7 January).

Results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial published today showed tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.

Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone – also discovered through government-backed research through the RECOVERY clinical trial – which is already provided as standard of care to the NHS.

Patients receiving these drugs, typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, left intensive care between 7 to 10 days earlier on average. The rollout of these treatments could therefore contribute significantly towards reducing pressures on hospitals over the coming weeks and months.

Updated guidance will be issued tomorrow by the government and the NHS to trusts across the UK, encouraging them to use tocilizumab in their treatment of COVID-19 patients who are admitted to intensive care units, effective immediately.

Supplies of tocilizumab are already available in hospitals across the UK and clinicians will be able to treat all those admitted to intensive care units, potentially saving hundreds of lives. The Department for Health and Social Care is working closely with Roche, who manufacture tocilizumab, to ensure treatments continue to be available to UK patients.

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