Posted: Fri 19th Jun 2020

First life-saving COVID-19 drug owes part of its discovery to North Wales patients

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

The first life-saving drug to give those seriously ill with Covid-19 a fighting chance of survival owes part of its discovery to North Wales patients.

An existing drug called dexamethasone, a low-dose steroid treatment, was used in the region as part of clincial trials.

With no known  treatments at the time for Covid-19, Wrexham Maelor, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd were among 165 centres nationally trialling treatments to help those struggling with the infection.

Lopinavir-Ritonavir, normally used to treat HIV, and dexamethasone, used in a wide range of conditions to reduce inflammation, were offered to adult inpatients who tested positive for COVID-19.

They were part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also worked for coronavirus.

Two days ago it was announced dexamethasone cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen.

It appears to mitigate some of the damage done by coronavirus when body’s the immune system goes into overdrive to attack the infection.

The findings were the first real breakthrough in treatment of the disease and researchers claimed, had it been used form the start of the pandemic, could have saved 5,000 lives in the UK.

The UK government has 200,000 courses of the drug stockpiled and said it will make dexamethasone available to patients.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “a remarkable British scientific achievement”.

Clinicians across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board worked with research teams to recruit patients, including those on intensive care units, acute medicine and maternity wards.

Consultant Physician, Dr Chris Subbe, leading the team in Ysbyty Gwynedd, said: “Providing new treatments through a trial such as this is the best way to get evidence.”

Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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