In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the search for any potential treatments relied on repurposing existing drugs. By examining treatments already proven safe, and by looking at the way they worked, researchers had reason to believe they had a good chance of tackling Covid. With no specific treatments available and thousands critically ill, this was emergency medical research.
In May, the UK launched the world’s largest clinical trial, called Recovery, to test a group of existing treatments. There were mixed results, but in June, there was a breakthrough – the first evidence that dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid, could reduce deaths from Covid-19.
Another trial being carried out in six countries, including the UK, recently revealed another two existing drugs that could save yet more lives.
In the long term, many scientists think we face a world where the coronavirus is always present in the global population at some level.