Life-saving treatment for those who get most ill with Covid, study finds


P

eople who get the most ill from Covid-19 could be offered a new lifeline with the first antiviral drug shown to save lives in patients admitted to hospital, researchers have said.

The Recovery trial demonstrated that the antibody combination developed by Regeneron reduced the risk of death when given to patients with severe Covid-19, who had not mounted a natural antibody response of their own.

The chances of these patients needing to be put on a ventilator were also reduced, as was the duration of their hospital stay.

Between September 18 2020 and May 22 this year, 9,785 UK patients admitted to hospital with the disease were randomly allocated to receive usual care plus the antibody combination treatment, or usual care alone.

Of these, about one third were seronegative, meaning they had no natural antibody response of their own, and half were seropositive, meaning they had already developed natural antibodies against the virus.

For one sixth of those involved in the study, their serostatus was unknown.

Researchers found that among patients who received usual care alone, 28-day mortality was twice as high in those without an antibody response (30 per cent) compared with those who were seropositive (15 per cent ) at the start of the study.

According to the study, for patients who had no antibody response the treatment reduced the chance of them dying within 28 days by a fifth, compared with usual care alone.

Sir Martin Landray, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and joint chief investigator, said: “What we found was amongst these patients who were seronegative – they hadn’t raised antibodies of their own, if you then gave them this combination of two antibodies in an intravenous infusion, then mortality was reduced by one fifth.

“So instead of 30 per cent dying, 24 per cent died. So if you think of it differently, for every 100 patients who were given the intravenous infusion, we would save six lives.”



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