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Drugs tested for new use against coronavirus

TWO drugs used to treat immune-related conditions are being urgently tested to check if they can help fight Covid-19.

Experts at Cambridge university and King’s College London have begun a national study of ravulizumab and baricitinib. The so-called TACTIC-R trial will target patients when they are admitted to hospital with the aim of halting dramatic deterioration of symptoms.

Researchers say about 15 per cent of those with the virus develop severe disease, possibly because the body’s immune system overreacts to infected cells and destroys healthy ones too.

Study chief Dr Frances Hall said: ‘There is good reason to believe that these two drugs could help prevent severe organ failure and even death.’

Meanwhile, business secretary Alok Sharma said £47million had been invested in the Oxford and Imperial vaccine programmes and a further £84million has been pledged. If the trial is a success, 30million doses of the vaccine will be available by September, the government promised last night.