DRUGS used to treat HIV and malaria are among those being tested as potential coronavirus treatments.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK is leading the way in the race to find treatments and announced the launch of a new clinical trial.

Almost 1,000 patients from 132 hospitals across the UK have already been recruited and thousands more are expected to join the RECOVERY - the Randomised Evaluation of COV-id19 thERapY - trial in the coming weeks, making it the largest randomised controlled trial of potential COVID-19 treatments in the world.

The £2.1m trial, coordinated by researchers at the University of Oxford, is testing a number of medicines which include:

  • Lopinavir-Ritonavir, commonly used to treat HIV;
  • Dexamethasone, a type of steroid use in a range of conditions to reduce inflammation; and
  • Hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria.

The Department of Health said definitive results on whether the treatments are safe and effective are expected within months and, if positive, they could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Mr Hancock said: “The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation and we are doing everything we can to fight it on all fronts through our evidence-based action plan.

“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.

“The public still has a crucial role to play by staying at home so we can protect the NHS and save lives.”

Adult patients who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are being invited to take part and the trial has been specially designed so that as further medicines are identified, they can be added to the study within days.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has procedures in place to support manufacturers and researchers developing the treatments and to approve clinical trial applications in days, rather than weeks.

Its experience as a world-renowned regulator means these rapid approvals are based on the latest scientific advice and do not compromise the Government’s top priority of maintaining patient safety.

RECOVERY is being led by Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, and Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health.

Professor 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.

“We are very grateful to those patients who are participating and to the hospital and research staff who are helping us to find the best treatments.”

The trial received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department of Health and Social Care. It is part of a wider £20m rapid research response investment by the Government to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.