A RESEARCH team has become the first in the UK to start using a new specialist Covid-19 treatment on patients.

The team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is the first to use REGN-COV2 in the UK – a new treatment made from a combination of monoclonal antibodies specially targeting coronavirus.

This is through the research and development service’s involvement in the national RECOVERY trial, involving some of the most high profile health organisations in the world.

The treatment was given to President Trump after he tested positive for the virus.

Ben Prudon, respiratory consultant and the trust’s study lead, said: “This is a really exciting development for the team as they become the first to start exploring the use of a Covid-19 designed treatment.

“Up until now, all treatments being tested have been ones already used to help treat other conditions.

“Now, we have become the first organisation in the UK to use this new treatment on patients – it’s a magnificent achievement for the team.

“We are hugely excited about the potential of this treatment to help patients needing hospital treatment for Covid. At this point, we believe it is a safe medication, but we don’t know if it is genuinely useful – which is why it is only being used as part of Oxford University’s RECOVERY Trial, and why patient involvement in RECOVERY is so important.”

Jill Deane, clinical research project manager and research nurse, helped recruit the first patient into this part of the study.

She said: “This has been a real team effort – we couldn’t have achieved this without the help and support of so many.

“Research nurses, clinicians and staff on the wards, among many others.

“The pharmacy team have gone above and beyond to help – because of them, we are able to offer monoclonal antibodies and have this up and running in the organisation.

“All the patients involved so far have been very positive about the study and keen to play their part. Their involvement could potentially help so many other people suffering with Covid-19 in the future.”

The RECOVERY study has been underway for several months and has already involved a range of tests into existing treatments used successfully for other conditions.

These include the use of a low dose of Dexamethasone, a commonly used antibiotic called Azithromycin, an anti-inflammatory known as Tocilizumab and convalescent plasma collected from donors who have recovered from the virus.

Dr Prudon said: “The study has already achieved some fantastic results – the discovery of the effectiveness of Dexamethasone in treating this condition being one of them.

“This latest achievement is just a further reason for us all to be optimistic and hopeful when it comes to improving treatment for Covid-19.”