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Coronavirus drug being tested by UK scientists could 'significantly improve' patients' health

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

UK scientists are testing an experimental drug which they hope will significantly improve the health of coronavirus patients.

The drug, known as SNG-001, has been shown in trials to stimulate the immune response in the lungs of patients with asthma and chronic lung disease, according to BBC Panorama, which gained access to the trial at University Hospital Southampton.

It uses a protein called interferon beta which our bodies produce when we get a viral infection.

Professor Tom Wilkinson, who heads up the drug trial, told the programme: "In an ideal world, we would see a significant improvement in the health of the patients receiving the drug, a reduction in those requiring intensive care and ventilation.

"But it is early days to understand that and we will know more when we have the results."

Initial results from the interferon-beta trial at the University of Southampton are expected by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will today urge countries to "pull together" and share their expertise as he co-hosts an international conference to drive the race for coronavirus treatments, tests and vaccines. The Prime Minister will describe the challenge facing humanity as the "most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes".

He will add: "We are in this together and together we will prevail."

Today's online pledging conference - co-hosted by the UK and eight other countries and organisations - aims to bring in more than £6.6bn for the global response to the pandemic.

Panorama: When Will We Be Safe? will air at 7.30pm on BBC One

Belfast Telegraph