Cardiff and Vale UHB plays key role in COVID-19 Dexamethasone breakthrough

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has made a substantial contribution to a major treatment breakthrough for COVID-19.

The health board was the first in the UK to open the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial, which found that the low-dose steroid treatment, Dexamethasone reduces deaths of hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19. 

The trial, which was implemented by the University of Oxford, found that dexamethasone reduced deaths by one third in ventilated patients, and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen.

Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19, with the 10-day treatment costing approximately only £5 per patient.

Based on the results, the drug would prevent one death of approximately eight patients on ventilators, and one of around 25 patients on oxygen.

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the trial, said: ‘Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.’ 

Cardiff and Vale UHB was a leading recruiter to the RECOVERY trial with more than 180 patients enrolled at the University Hospital of Wales and University Hospital Llandough.

It is one of a number of trials that the health board has been delivering to find effective treatments for patients in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Chris Fegan, Principal Investigator for the RECOVERY study at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “As the first health board in the UK to open the RECOVERY trial, we are delighted with these really promising results.

“Identifying an inexpensive and widely available drug as an effective treatment for some of the most unwell patients with COVID-19 is a really exciting development, which will hopefully save the lives of many people worldwide.

“We are proud to be one of the leading recruiters to this study, which is down in no small part to the huge collaborative effort between clinical teams, ward staff and the research team here at Cardiff and Vale.

“This great outcome highlights the vital role that research plays in providing care for our patients, and will reinvigorate our commitment to working alongside research colleagues worldwide to identify further effective treatments for COVID-19.”

Dr Stuart Walker, Executive Medical Director of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “I would like to commend the efforts of the teams at Cardiff and Vale that have implemented this trial so proactively, playing a key role in contributing to this exciting breakthrough. 

“We have already adjusted our treatment guidelines to incorporate the findings of the RECOVERY trial so that as many Cardiff and Vale patients as possible can benefit from the treatment.”