Covid breakthrough as lifesaving arthritis drug to slash death by HALF

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Baricitinib, a drug used to treat Rheumatoid arthritis is tipped to reduce risk of death from severe Covid by about a fifth, according to a new study. The researchers have even said that the drug can be used on top of other treatments, and still see results. According to experts involved in the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (Recovery) trial, the tablet baricitinib can lower the risk of death from severe Covid by about a fifth.

However, they also noted when the drug was taken in conjunction with other medicines, the anti inflammatory drug lower the risk of death by well over 50 percent.

Prof Sir Martin Landray, a joint chief investigator of the trial at the University of Oxford said: “What we have now is a suite of drugs which tackle the immune system at different levels, and slightly different ways, which depending on the patient and their circumstances, and their other illnesses and so on, can be used either alone or in combination and further reduce the risk of death.”

He reassured that the baricitinib did not pose any undue health risks.

In a paper that has not been peer-reviewed yet, the researchers analysed the outcomes for 4,008 patients who were hospitalised with Covid between February and December 2021.

These patients were given the usual case at the hospital, which included oxygen treatments, the steroid dexamethasone, the arthritis drug tocilizumab, which is given intravenously, and the anti-viral drug remdesivir.

The outcomes for these patients were contrasted with the 4,148 patients who were treated with a prescription for baricitinib for up to 10 days in addition to usual care.

The study found that 546 patients who were given usual care died within 28 days of being admitted to hospital, compared to the 513 patients who were also given baricitinib.

Prof Landray said: “This result was consistent across the very wide range of people we studied, younger people and older people, men and women.”

He also noted that patients who were given the arthritis drug were also more likely to be successfully discharged alive within the first 28 days.

However, the study found that the size was this effect was relatively small.

They also discovered that patients who were given baricitinib were less likely to require mechanical ventilation.

According to Prof Landray, a ten day prescription for the drug would cost about £250, making it more expensive than the £5 treatment with dexamethasone.

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However, baricitnib is significantly more affordable than tocilizumab, which would cost about £800-£1,000.

However, Prof Landray noted that it was likely the prices paid by the NHS would be lower.

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, showered praise for the latest results for baricitinib.

He said: “This is promising news from the government-funded Recovery trial and shows once again how the UK is leading the world in identifying life-saving treatments for NHS patients.

“A big thank you to all of the researchers, doctors and volunteers involved in this work. “

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