Holidays: Matt Hancock shares concerns over international travel
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock is understood to be planning to instruct the anti-virals team of medical experts to prioritise research and development of the potentially life-saving drug. Current drugs are given only when a patient suffers serious symptoms. Whitehall insiders say the treatment could be available within months.
Experts insist the best time to administer treatments which stop the virus taking over cells is as soon as possible after infection.
The research follows a Government-funded trial last June that was the first to identify the benefits of the cheap steroid treatment dexamethasone in combatting the disease.
The drug reduced the death rate by 20 percent in patients requiring oxygen support, and 35 percent for ventilated patients.
Dexamethasone has saved around 22,000 lives in the UK so far and an estimated million worldwide.
More recent trials have demonstrated the benefits of other potential Covid treatments tocilizumab and sarilumab.
One trial found tocilizumab reduced the relative risk of death for patient on oxygen by 14 percent when administered with dexamethasone.
Researchers worked swiftly to ensure that patients were able to receive treatment, where clinically appropriate, straight away.
Details of the latest research could be released within weeks.
The Department of Health said: “The UK has proven itself to be a world-leader in identifying and rolling out effective treatments.”
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