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Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for coronavirus patients to volunteer for clinical trials as scientists figure out how to battle the disease.
Speaking at a briefing at Downing Street, the cabinet minister said there is “still a lot we don’t know” about treating Covid-19 and UK scientists were now “intensively researching drugs and treatments”.
He confirmed the UK was setting up three separate trials to cover the different stages of the disease: primary care, hospital care and critical care.
The minister said he hoped people would volunteer “where that’s possible” at their local hospital and “where that’s clinically advised” before, ahead of an expected weekend of warm weather, he gave Brits an “instruction” to stay at home.
“We need more patients to be part of these trials because the bigger the trials, the bigger the data and the faster we can roll out the treatments – if, and only if, it’s proven to work,” he said.
“These treatments will help us as the science develops but for now the only way to protect yourself and your family from this disease is to stay at home.”
Saying “research about treatments is absolutely central to our plan,” the health secretary added: “We are bringing together some of the finest research minds in the country to design new trials and we’re delivering them at record pace,” he said.
“We have established three national clinical trials covering each major stage of the disease – primary care, hospital care and critical care for the most seriously ill.
“Just like the Nightingale hospital, one of these was put together in just nine days which is breathtaking speed.
“These trials are looking at the effectiveness of existing drugs and steroids, re-purposed for treatment for Covid-19.
“One of the trials, which is called recovery and deals in hospital care, is the largest of its kind in the world, with 926 patients involved.”
Hancock also said “coronavirus continues its grim march” as he confirmed the latest figures from the Department for Health and Social Care: a further 684 people have lost their lives to the disease, bringing the UK death toll to 3,605.
Among those who died were two healthcare assistants and two NHS nurses, Areema Nasreen, 36, and Aimee O’Rourke, 39, who was also a mum-of-three.