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9th July 2021

Welsh researchers contribute to covid-19 study which finds life-saving antibody treatment

The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, which is running in seven health boards across Wales, has found a new treatment to reduce hospital stay and chances of severely ill COVID-19 patients needing a ventilator.

The study found that the Regeneron treatment, a combination of two antibodies produced in a lab, neutralises the ability of the virus to infect cells in patients who have not developed an immune response to the virus. Patients were randomly allocated to receive usual care plus the antibody combination treatment or usual care alone. The findings could pave the way for Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment to be approved by UK regulators and rolled out for use across the NHS.

In total, 1,255 COVID-19 patients across Wales were recruited to the Recovery trial which has been testing a range of potential treatments for COVID-19 across the UK since March 2020.

Professor Angharad Davies, Health and Care Research Wales Specialty Lead for Infection, said: “This is another exciting step forward, the first time an antiviral treatment has been shown to save lives of COVID-19 patients in a hospital environment.

“I’m proud of the researchers across Wales who have worked together as part of this national effort and have been able to play a crucial role in these findings.

“The clinical trials developing vaccines are only one element of a huge research effort, finding ways to beat this virus.  We’re still seeing people becoming infected and more treatments need to be found to reduce hospital stays and save lives of those who are the most ill.”

RECOVERY, run by Oxford University, was set up in Wales through Health and Care Research Wales the organisation nationally coordinating all COVID-19 research and study set up in Wales.

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “This shows the vital role the research community in Wales is playing in the UK-wide effort to find effective treatments for patients with COVID-19.

“The RECOVERY trial is one of a number of urgent public health studies still on going across the country to help us save as many lives as possible, as we learn to live with the virus.”

In February 2021 RECOVERY found that anti-inflammatory drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, tocilizumab, shortens the time until patients are successfully discharged from hospital and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator, saving 1 in 25 severely ill patients.