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Brit scientists have discovered a cheap £5 steroid can be used as a lifesaving Covid-19 drug.
Scientists have found only the second type of medicine which reduces the risk of patients dying from killer coronavirus.
Steroids costing just a fiver, taken as a tablet or an injection, saved the life of one in every 10 Covid-19 patients treated in trials.
The life-saving pill will now be a standard care treatment across the world.
Seven trials co-ordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) followed patients on types of steroids called corticosteroids at 88 NHS hospitals.
One type of corticosteroids, called hydrocortisone, cut the risk of death in critically ill coronavirus patients by 20%.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS will now take immediate action to ensure that patients who could benefit from treatment with hydrocortisone do so, adding a further weapon in the armoury in the worldwide fight against Covid-19.
“One of the distinctive benefits of having our NHS is that we’ve been able to mobilise quickly and at scale to help researchers test and develop proven coronavirus treatments.”
Trials carried out with the NHS mean Britain is the first country to find a drug which can stop Covid-19 deaths.
Three studies have been published today proving that the steroid increases survival rate.
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One by Bristol University saw 68% critically ill patients survive after being given hydrocortisone, compared to 60% surviving without them.
And trials by Oxford University and Imperial College London both confirmed different types of corticosteroids worked.
Professor Martin Landray, of Oxford University, said: “These patients are very high risk, for whom there was no other treatment, and this drug costs next to nothing.
“Treating 12 patients costs less than £60 so this is a really cheap treatment to save lives.”
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Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said: “These findings offer further evidence that corticosteroids can be an important part of Covid-19 treatment for severe patients.
“It is impressive to see so many UK participants willing to take part in studies. Research such as this will make the difference in controlling this virus.”
It comes in good time ahead of what will be a tricky winter for the NHS.
Government scientists have said the UK could see as many as 80,000 more deaths in a “reasonable worst case scenario”.
The official UK death toll stands at 41,500.
It comes only weeks after a military study revealed that a product found in mosquito repellent could kill Covid.
Britain's armed forces were issued with an insect repellent that contains a product called Citriodiol because it was believed it might offer a new layer of protection against the disease.
The company which produces Citriodiol also believed it could offer protection against the coronavirus.
- World Health Organisation
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