‘Holy sh–, it works’: How an out-of-the-box UK COVID recovery trial evaluating a common drug has saved a million lives

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Credit: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Credit: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

[Epidemiologist Peter Horby’s] summary was pithy. 

“Holy shit, it works.” 

On June 16 [2020], after verifying the data, the Recovery Trial announced the news: A drug had finally been shown to reduce Covid-19’s mortality. Dexamethasone became part of the standard of care across the world. A UK government estimate published in March 2021 concluded that the drug’s use had so far saved 22,000 lives in the UK and an estimated 1 million lives worldwide.

In the US, the New York Times’s Carl Zimmer wrote in January 2021: “many trials for Covid antivirals were doomed from the start — too small and poorly designed to provide useful data.”

The United Kingdom’s Recovery Trial was the opposite: massive and simple. 

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

The National Health Service runs most hospitals in the country, and their staff, including the research staff, are all government employees. British patients’ medical records are all shared in one data system.

This made setting up the world’s biggest clinical trial in the middle of a pandemic straightforward. To hear the doctors involved tell it, it was as simple as the country’s chief medical officer sending a letter to the head of every hospital, asking them to take part. The grand experiment was soon underway.

Read the original post

Related article:  Can you buy a synthetic version of the deadly 1918 influenza? There's no law against it—and that has security experts worried
Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How 'antifreeze' genes jumped from one species to another without sex

Infographic: Gene transfer mystery — How ‘antifreeze’ genes jumped from one species to another without sex

It isn’t surprising... that herrings and smelts, two groups of fish that commonly roam the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.