The Recovery trial has recruited over 5,000 patients in 165 NHS hospitals around the UK in a month, ahead of similar trials in the US and Europe, which have a few hundred.
“This is by far the largest trial in the world,” said Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at Oxford University, who is leading it. He has previously led Ebola drug trials in west Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are being tested separately as part of the Recovery trial, and if there is any effect in patients given those drugs alone, compared with those given no drugs, they can be combined later.
The number of patients being enrolled on the Recovery trial across the UK tells a story of doctors who have faith in scientific evidence over hope alone. Ten per cent of Covid-19 patients in the UK are now taking part in the trial, and the researchers say the more people join, the sooner they will have answers.
Also in the trial now are a combination of two antiretroviral drugs used in HIV treatment, lopinavir-ritonavir, known by the brand name Kaletra, and low-dose dexamethasone, a type of steroid used in a range of conditions, typically to reduce inflammation.