26th February 2021

The new treatments that are successfully fighting coronavirus

The health minister has outlined the latest treatments that are currently available to treat coronavirus.

During the year that coronavirus has been circulating within Wales, we have come a long way in terms of treating the virus.

Though vaccines have a vital role to play in stopping people catching or having such severe forms of the virus, treatments are also needed in order to help those who already have the disease.

Back in the summer Dexamethasone, a low-dose steroid treatment used to reduce inflammation, was found to reduce deaths in patients with severe respiratory complications.

The steroid was found to have a beneficial effect following an extensive RECOVERY clinical trial, led by a team from Oxford University, which involved 2,000 hospital patients across the UK. They discovered that dexamethasone reduced deaths by a third in ventilated patients, and by a fifth in other patients receiving oxygen.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board was the first in the UK to open the trial.

Speaking at the Welsh Government press conference on Monday, February 15, Vaughan Gething said another drug had also been found to help save lives.

“Throughout the pandemic, people in Wales have played a vital role in helping the search for breakthrough treatments and vaccines,” he told the press conference.

“Hundreds of people were involved in the trials for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and many more are testing two new vaccines.

“Nearly 14,000 people have now been recruited to Covid-19 studies since last year, looking into treatments for patients at all stages of the disease.

“All seven NHS organisations in Wales and 1,100 people from across Wales are involved in the RECOVERY trial, which is led by the University of Oxford.

“The large-scale study is looking for treatments to help people hospitalised with suspected or confirmed Covid-19. It has already shown the low-cost steroid dexamethasone reduces death by up to a third in people with severe respiratory complications.

“And it has just reported that an arthritis drug could save one in 25 severely ill coronavirus patients.”

Not only has the research found the drugs that do work against the virus, they have also found the drugs that don’t. These include an anti-malaria drug championed by former US President Donald Trump.

“It [the study] has also helped show what treatments don’t work, including the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine,” said Mr Gething.

“All health boards with intensive care units are recruiting to a trial led by Imperial College London, which is aiming to identify treatments for people requiring intensive care. About 250 patients have taken part in this study. It has shown two rheumatoid arthritis drugs can reduce risk of death by nearly 10%.”