Leicester championed as UK’s top recruiter to RECOVERY trial

The Leicester COVID-19 research team, made up of researchers and clinicians from the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals, were championed at the daily Number 10 press conference on Tuesday 16 June, as being the top recruiter to the national RECOVERY trial.

Success was attributed to the joint effort between the University and Trust, which brought together those with the key skills and expertise to take on the challenge posed by COVID-19. The trial has led to the major breakthrough of using the common steroid dexamethasone to treat patients with severe coronavirus.

Around 11,500 people from the UK have signed up the trial, with more than 500 patients taking part from Leicester. More than half of all patients hospitalised with coronavirus in Leicester have been recruited to a medicine trial. The national average for hospital recruitment into COVID-19 medicine trials is 13%.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester said: “We would like to thank every patient that has come forward to join the RECOVERY trial – we are immensely proud of their commitment to take on the challenge posed by the coronavirus and find a solution.

“Our success is testament to the close collaboration between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester in sharing expertise and research power – I am immensely proud that we have played a part in this important development.”

Professor Chris Brightling, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Leicester’s Hospitals and Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “This is the news we have been waiting for: a treatment that reduces death in people hospitalised with severe COVID infection. Dexamethasone is a widely available, cheap medication that will now be given routinely in hospitals in the UK but will be accessible worldwide.”

The use of dexamethasone reduced death rates by a third (35%) for patients on ventilators, and a fifth (20%) for patients needing oxygen.

In a special alert to all NHS trusts, the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, has confirmed that any patient coming into hospital with COVID-19 needing oxygen or ventilation should be considered for dexamethasone. However it will not be used for treating COVID-19 in the community, where there is no proven benefit.