MORE than 30 patients from the Forth Valley are, along with local healthcare staff, have contributed to a major trial treating Covid-19 with existing drugs.

Since early-April, patients and staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital have been participating in the UK-wide trail known as RECOVERY.

They have been testing the effectiveness of existing medicines such as steroids, antivirals and antimalarial drugs.

Recently, the trial has demonstrated that the commonly used steroid dexamethasone can significantly improve outcomes for Covid-19 patients who require oxygen or ventilation.

It was also found that the drug hydroxychloroquine does not provide any benefit in the treatment of patients hospitalised with the condition.

Dr Mark Spears, local principal investigator for the RECOVERY trial and NHS Forth Valley's consultant respiratory physician, said: "Clinical research is incredibly important and without large scale trials like this we would not be able to identify effective new treatments.

"So far in Forth Valley we have recruited 33 patients and I would like to thank everyone who participated and all my colleagues who have supported the trial over the last few months."

The initiative is one of several clinical trials the local health board is taking part in.

The hospital has also opened a trail called STOP-COVID, led by the University of Dundee.

This will test the effectiveness of a novel medication known as Brensocatib.

Forth Valley Royal is awaiting decision on whether it will take part in trials to test proposed vaccines for Covid-19 as well, while there may also be a trial to examine the ability of antibody tests to predict immunity to coronavirus.