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The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) remains an exceptional study that is leading the global fight against COVID-19. It provides a model that can be easily adapted to respond to future pandemics, or diseases lacking effective treatments.

It is likely that the true impact of RECOVERY can never be fully measured, but through discovering four treatments that effectively reduce deaths from COVID-19, the study has saved hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of lives worldwide. Crucially, low- and middle-income countries have shared these benefits, particularly since dexamethasone (the first treatment to be discovered) is inexpensive, easily administered and readily available in most hospitals.

Find out about this breakthrough in the COVID-19 response in this video comprising interviews with Co-Chief Investigator, Professor Sir Martin Landray; data linkage lead, Professor Marion Mafham; trial participant, Elaine Bowden; clinician, Dr Raha West; and former Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance. 

Clinical Trials Day is celebrated on 20 May each year - the anniversary of recruitment into what is thought to be the first clinical trial in 1747. At a time when scurvy was rife among seamen, James Lind, then a surgeon’s mate on the HMS Salisbury, followed a hunch that it was caused by putrefaction of the body. Lind noted that ‘No physician conversant with this disease at sea had undertaken to throw light upon the subject’. He recruited 12 sailors and allocated two men to each of six different treatments (vinegar, nutmeg, oranges and lemons, sea water, cider, and elixir of vitriol) and found that those given oranges and lemons experienced ‘the most sudden and good visible effects.’

The RECOVERY trial is supported by grants to the University of Oxford from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), UK Research and Innovation, and Wellcome, and by core funding provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Health Data Research UK, the Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit, the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR Clinical Trials Unit Support Funding, and Wellcome.