By Justin Rowlatt
A large-scale trial of a new treatment it is hoped will help stop Covid-19 patients from developing severe illness has begun in the UK.
The first patient received the treatment at Hull Royal Infirmary on Tuesday afternoon.
It involves inhaling a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when it gets a viral infection.
The hope is it will stimulate the immune system, priming cells to be ready to fight off viruses.
Early findings suggested the treatment cut the odds of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – such as requiring ventilation – by almost 80%.
It was developed at Southampton University Hospital and is being produced by the Southampton-based biotech company, Synairgen.
A course of treatment with the new drug could cost around £2,000, which is not that expensive for a hospital treatment.
“To be viable it will have to represent good value for money,” Synairgen’s chief executive Richard Marsden said.
Alexandra Constantin, 34, was the first person to receive the treatment as part of this new trial, after she was admitted to the hospital with coronavirus on Monday.