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Another life-saving Covid drug identified

UK experts say they have found another life-saving drug that can help people ill with Covid.

The anti-inflammatory baricitinib is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Trials suggest it can cut death risk by about a fifth in patients needing hospital care for severe Covid.

It could be used with other Covid treatments, such as the cheap steroid dexamethasone, to save even more lives, researchers say.

That might halve deaths.

The NHS may soon recommend baricitinib based on these new results. A 10-day course of the pills costs around £250, although the NHS may be able to negotiate a discount.

Protecting lives

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “A big thank you to all of the researchers, doctors and volunteers involved in this work.

“Our medical and scientific experts will now consider the results before any decisions are made on next steps.”

Although vaccines have been doing a great job at cutting infections and protecting lives, some people will still catch and become very sick with Covid.

And the Recovery trial has been testing existing medications on Covid patients to see if they help

It has already identified dexamethasone, tocilizumab and a treatment called Ronapreve – discoveries that have changed clinical practice worldwide and been credited with saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives, experts say.

And now it appears some very ill Covid patients, including those on ventilators, fare much better if they receive baricitinib.

The benefit was on top of other proven life-saving Covid drugs.

There are now many drugs that can help fight Covid:

anti-inflammatory drugs that stop the immune system overreacting with deadly consequences

anti-viral drugs that make it harder for the coronavirus to replicate inside the body

antibody therapies that mimic the immune system to attack the virus.