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News & Media

Media Release

Date: 17 June 2020

RUH contributes to successful COVID-19 treatment study

Staff and patients at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust have contributed to a major national study which has identified a treatment for COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital with severe breathing problems.

It was announced on Tuesday (16 June) that preliminary results showed that one of the treatments being assessed, dexamethasone, a type of steroid, reduces the risk of death among patients with severe respiratory complications.

Dr Tim Craft, Director for Research and Innovation and a Consultant in Anaesthesia at the RUH, said: "This is being hailed as the biggest breakthrough yet in the treatment of patients with the virus. It's a global first.

"The study compared 2,104 COVID-19 patents given a low-dose of dexamethasone with 4,321 patients given standard treatment. For every eight ventilated patents given the drug, one death was prevented.

"Even better news is that dexamethasone is inexpensive, already available, and widely used by anaesthetists in Bath with patients having surgery. It can therefore be used in COVID-19 patients immediately.

"We're extremely proud to have played a key role in such an important trial, which could lead to thousands of lives being saved."

The RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial aims to identify treatments that may be beneficial for adults hospitalised with confirmed COVID-19.

It is a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) - once a participant has been consented in to the study they are allocated at random to one of the treatment arms.

At the RUH the treatment arms available for randomisation are:

  • Low-dose Dexamethasone (a type of steroid, which is used in a range of conditions typically to reduce inflammation)
  • Lopinavir-Ritonavir (commonly used to treat HIV)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (related to an anti-malarial drug)
  • Azithromycin (an antibiotic)

You can find out more about the RECOVERY trial here:

Dexamethasone is mostly used as an anti-inflammatory medicine to treat a range of conditions such as asthma and arthritis and certain cancer-related treatments. It does not stop people from catching coronavirus. When used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients with serious respiratory problems who need oxygen or ventilators it must administered by qualified medical staff in a clinical environment.


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