The UK Government has announced that a large-scale randomised trial has been launched to assess potential treatments for Covid-19 (coronavirus).

The RECOVERY trial is currently evaluating HIV drugs lopinavir/ritonavir as well as anti-inflammation steroid dexamethasone and anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine. Additional experimental drugs can be added to the study in the future.

Said to be the largest of its kind in the world, the study is being conducted by the University of Oxford at more than 130 NHS hospitals across the country.

It is designed to enrol adults hospitalised due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection. So far, nearly 1,000 patients have been recruited at 132 hospitals within just 15 days and more participants are expected to register in the coming weeks.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The UK is leading the way on research in the race to find treatments and we have now launched the largest trial in the world, pooling resources with our world-leading life science sector.

“As one of three major trials funded by the government, this marks a major milestone in our battle against coronavirus and offers renewed hope that together we can beat this.”

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The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department of Health and Social Care provided £2.1m to support the RECOVERY trial.

Safety and effectiveness data from the study is expected to be available in the coming months.

University of Oxford Nuffield Department of Medicine emerging infectious diseases and global health professor Peter Horby said: “The RECOVERY trial will provide much-needed evidence on the best care for patients with Covid-19. The more patients that are enrolled, the sooner we will know how best to treat this disease.”

Last month, researchers at the university commenced enrolment of healthy volunteers for a clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is working to implement procedures and to authorise trial applications within days of potential Covid-19 treatments.