April 17 (UPI) -- The world's largest randomized clinical trial of potential coronavirus treatments is underway in Britain and has recruited 5,000 patients in record time, researchers say.
The British patients are scattered across 165 National Health Service hospitals, trial leader Peter Horby told The Guardian on Friday.
"This is by far the largest trial in the world," said Horby, an Oxford University professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health.
The Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy, or "Recovery" trial, is testing four promising treatments for the coronavirus disease. If the science supports it, they will be given to NHS patients as quickly as possible.
Britain's death toll from the pandemic is approaching 14,000 and it has more than 104,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Definitive results on whether the treatments are safe and effective are expected within months, and could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands worldwide, trial leaders say.
The drugs now being tested include lopinavir-ritonavir, which is commonly used to treat HIV; dexamethasone, a type of steroid use in a range of conditions to reduce inflammation; hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria; and azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic.
U.S. regulators last month approved a hydroxychloroquine study for researchers at New York University. The National Institutes of Health said this month it will begin a clinical trial of the drug for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
The New York Department of Health started a trial last month that included of a cocktail of chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.