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NHS patients to receive life-saving COVID-19 treatments that could cut hospital time by 10 days

Female nurse in full protective wear holding digital tablet for masked male patient in early 60s to communicate with family during hospital stay.

Patients across the UK who are admitted to intensive care units due to COVID-19 are set to receive new life-saving treatments which can reduce the time spent in hospital by up to 10 days, the government has announced on Thursday 7 January.

Results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial published today showed tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the relative risk of death by 24%, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.

Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone – also discovered through government-backed research through the RECOVERY clinical trial – which is already provided as standard of care to the NHS.

Patients receiving these drugs, typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, left intensive care between 7 to 10 days earlier on average. The rollout of these treatments could therefore contribute significantly towards reducing pressures on hospitals over the coming weeks and months.

Updated guidance will be issued tomorrow by the government and the NHS to trusts across the UK, encouraging them to use tocilizumab in their treatment of COVID-19 patients who are admitted to intensive care units, effective immediately.

Supplies of tocilizumab are already available in hospitals across the UK and clinicians will be able to treat all those admitted to intensive care units, potentially saving hundreds of lives. The department is working closely with Roche, who manufacture tocilizumab, to ensure treatments continue to be available.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

The UK has proven time and time again it is at the very forefront of identifying and providing the most promising, innovative treatments for its patients.

Today’s results are yet another landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic and, when added to the armoury of vaccines and treatments already being rolled out, will play a significant role in defeating this virus.

We have worked quickly to ensure this treatment is available to NHS patients without delay, meaning hundreds of lives will be saved.

I am hugely proud of the significant role our NHS and its patients have played in this international trial, and grateful to the outstanding scientists and clinicians behind REMAP-CAP who have brought this treatment to our patients.

HM Government press release on Coronavirus  7th January 2021