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UK scientists claim to have made a major breakthrough in the hunt for a treatment for Covid-19.

Scientists leading the RECOVERY trial into potential treatments for the virus have said that a cheap and common steroid on the market now has shown amazing results.

The drug is dexamethasone, usually used for inflammation, and scientists have reported that it has reduced death rates of people on ventilators by a third and by a fifth for those on oxygen.

It is thought the drug could have saved 4,000 to 5,000 lives if it had been used from the start of the pandemic.

Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor and one of the chief investigators on the trial, said: “These preliminary results from the RECOVERY trial are very clear – dexamethasone reduces the risk of death among patients with severe respiratory complications. Covid-19 is a global disease – it is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide.”