New ‘life-saving’ treatment can reduce risk of death by 24%, government announces


Drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are now set to be given to COVID patients in intensive care with the hope they could save hundreds of lives.

Results from a government-funded clinical trial, published on Thursday, showed using the drugs reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.

It was revealed that tocilizumab and sarilumab can also reduce the time spent in hospital by up to 10 days for COVID patients.

Most of the data came from when the drugs were used in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone, which has previously been found to be an effective treatment for severely-ill coronavirus patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed “yet another landmark development” in the fight against COVID-19, with it hoped the roll-out of the new treatments will help reduce the current severe pressures on hospitals.

The government and the NHS will issue new guidance on Friday across the UK to encourage hospitals to immediately use tocilizumab in their treatment of COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units.