The preliminary results of a clinical trial suggest a new treatment for Covid-19 dramatically reduces the number of patients needing intensive care, according to the UK company that developed it.
The treatment from Southampton-based biotech Synairgen uses a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when it gets a viral infection.
The protein is inhaled directly into the lungs of patients with coronavirus, using a nebuliser, in the hope that it will stimulate an immune response.
The initial findings suggest the treatment cut the odds of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – such as requiring ventilation – by 79%.
Patients were two to three times more likely to recover to the point where everyday activities were not compromised by their illness, Synairgen claims.
It said the trial also indicated “very significant” reductions in breathlessness among patients who received the treatment.
In addition, the average time patients spent in hospital is said to have been reduced by a third, for those receiving the new drug – down from an average of nine days to six days.
The double-blind trial involved 101 volunteers who had been admitted for treatment at nine UK hospitals for Covid-19 infections.
Half of the participants were given the drug, the other half got what is known as a placebo – an inactive substance.