The Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial was officially launched on 23 March 2020. It is the world's largest COVID-19 drug trial.
Thanks to the ground-breaking work of RECOVERY, clinicians treating patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 now have two treatments that are known to improve survival. From having no known effective drugs when the pandemic first erupted, patients are now offered treatments that have been robustly proven to reduce death and improve other outcomes, such as the length of hospital stay and the need for mechanical ventilation.
The trial’s Chief Investigators, Professor Peter Horby and Professor Martin Landray, designed the trial quickly to investigate the effects of previously known drugs on COVID-19. The trial was rolled out in hospitals across the UK, a partnership that proved essential when treatments were found to work on COVID-19. Working so closely with the NHS allowed patients to immediately have access to effective treatments when the study data confirmed what was working, and alternatively to stop any treatment that was found to be ineffective.
The first breakthrough in the RECOVERY trial came within three months – the finding that the cheap steroid dexamethasone saves the lives of hospitalised patients. Within its first year, RECOVERY also identified another beneficial treatment, the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab, besides ruling out four candidate therapies. The trial continues to investigate a range of treatments, and recently launched RECOVERY International, to evaluate COVID-19 therapies that may be suitable for low-resource countries.
‘The RECOVERY trial is, quite simply, an extraordinary endeavour,' says Professor Martin Landray. 'In one year, it has recruited almost 40,000 patients and investigated 10 treatments. It has been remarkable to see so many people supporting it, from the scientists and clinical researchers, to the patients themselves when at a very frightening time of their lives. I feel privileged to be part of it, humbled by the contribution of all involved, and proud of what this amazing trial has achieved. It really has put randomised trials at the heart of high-quality healthcare – for COVID-19 and beyond.’
‘Being given the opportunity to participate in the RECOVERY trial was very humbling, knowing that the information they were collecting had a direct impact on the treatment of patients, and signing on was something I did gladly,' says Kimberley Featherstone, RECOVERY trial participant.
To find out more about the extraordinary work of the RECOVERY trial, there will be a special webinar to mark the one-year anniversary of the trial on 7 April 2021. The public are invited to hear directly from those who made it happen, including the co-Chief Investigators leading the trial, a hospital clinician and a trial participant.