The first life-saving coronavirus drug has been produced by the UK, Boris Johnson has announced. The Prime Minister praised the efforts of British scientists and stated that he was “delighted” and “proud” at the daily briefing. The drug, dexamethasone, will be made available in the NHS.
Mr Johnson said: “The global efforts to find a long-term solution to the pandemic continue, whether that’s through a vaccine or treatment.
“I’m delighted that the biggest breakthrough yet has been made by a fantastic team of scientists right here in the UK.
“I am proud of these British scientists backed by UK Government funding who have led the first robust clinical trial anywhere in the world to find a coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.
“I’m very grateful to the thousands of patients in this country who volunteered for the trials.”
He continued: “We’ve taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies even in the event of a second peak.
“While the chances of dying from COVID-19 have been greatly reduced by this treatment, they’re still far too high.”
Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of Oxford Peter Horby, who flanked Mr Johnson alongside the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, addressed the drug US President Donald Trump had previously hailed as a potential game-changer in the fight against COVID-19.
The man in charge of the Oxford University trials on dexamethasone said: “We have been testing six different drugs. A couple of weeks ago we declared an answer on hydroxychloroquine showing that in hospitalised patients it does not work.”
Mr Johnson also said he believed the country had “turned the tide” on coronavirus, as he had predicted more than 12 weeks ago.
The Prime Minister said: “We are coming through this – of course it’s a very, very difficult time for this country – but we are coming through it.
“We are now starting to see – with drugs like dexamethasone and the idea that perhaps you could combine that with other things – we are seeing the first chink of light, which I was perhaps a bit dubious about.
“We are seeing the first chink of light and the hope that there will be preparations, treatments – there already are – that could make a big difference to mortality rates and we are making big investments in vaccines.
“None of that negates the importance of us continuing to follow the rules, control the virus and save lives – we have turned the tide on it, we haven’t yet, finally, defeated it.”