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The UK’s revolution in coronavirus treatment, from tea to antibody therapies

Clinical care has come a long way since the cup-of-tea medicine seen in the first weeks of the pandemic.In the spring of 2020, British doctors and nurses were desperately trying to save lives from a new deadly disease. And through no fault of their own, they were often unable to save them.
But no amount of praying and hoping was enough to bring down the high fatality rates in those early weeks, particularly among older people and those with underlying health conditions. To date, over 128,000 people have now died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test in the U.K.

Mortality rates in hospital have “plummeted” between the first and second waves of the pandemic, said Liz Lightstone, a kidney specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “Even if you get COVID-19 badly enough to be admitted, you are much, much more likely to survive now than a year ago and much less likely to need treatment in intensive care,” she said.

On top of vaccines, treatments have played a huge part. These include repurposed off-the-shelf drugs as well as new medicines developed specifically in record time to treat COVID-19.

But the growing confidence of health care staff in treating COVID-19 has also helped boost the chances of survival, argues Lightstone, who co-chairs Imperial’s COVID-19 treatment and guideline group.

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