Cambridgeshire man tells of recovery from Covid-19 after treatment with 'breakthrough' drug

A man who recovered from coronavirus after he was given doses of the world's first Covid-19 treatment said the steroid drug "definitely" helped to save his life.

Retired manager Peter Herring, who used to work at the John Lewis department store in Cambridge, was given dexamethasone as part of a trial at the city's Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The 69-year-old, from Little Downham, near Ely, was admitted to hospital on April 28.

He said he was given the drug in tablet form from early in his stay, adding that he believes it was a daily dose, and that he was well enough to be discharged on May 6.

Pete Herring became very ill at the end of April Credit: ITV News Anglia

It took a further fortnight of recovery at home before he felt "back to normal".

"I was struggling for breath really and I was on oxygen (when admitted to hospital)," he said.

"They said would I like to do a trial?

"They didn't say what drug and it could have been one of three or four because they were trying different ones, which I agreed to.

"Obviously he gave me the right one.

Mr Herring said doctors were close to putting him on a ventilator but they found that giving him oxygen through a face mask worked.

"They said 'Well, we will have to put you on a ventilator, but we will just try this mask and see if that works', which it did, thank goodness," he said.

"I wouldn't have enjoyed going on a ventilator."

Asked if he believed dexamethasone helped save his life, he said: "Definitely."

Dexamethasone is believed to be the first drug to reduce deaths from coronavirus. Credit: PA

He added: "I'm here to tell the story and I'm really thankful to the NHS for that.

Mr Herring said that on the day he came out of hospital he was "feeling better" but "obviously not right as it took a fortnight then to get back to normal".

A study of dexamethasone, co-ordinated by Oxford University, suggests it is the first drug to reduce deaths from coronavirus.

It has been described as the most important trial result for Covid-19 so far.

"I had no qualms about doing a trial," Mr Herring said. "My way of thinking is it would hopefully help other people if they do find that it works, and it's worked and that's really brilliant."

Covid survivor Pete Herring Credit: ITV News Anglia

The drug Dexamethasone only costs around five pounds, yet the trial involving 2000 patients showed it can help stop the sickest from dying. It isn't a new drug, in fact it's a steroid that's been around for about sixty years and is often used to treat arthritis.

Experts say had its secret been known at the start of the pandemic up to 5,000 lives could have been saved.

It has been immediately approved to treat all UK Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital and requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.

Earlier today, Mr Herring joined ITV News Anglia's Jonathan Wills and Cambridgeshire University virologist Dr Chris Smith to discuss the trial further:

Dexamethasone benefits high risk patients needing respiratory support. For those needing oxygen alone, the risk of death is cut from 25% to 20%. That means one in twenty five deaths could be prevented. For patients on ventilators the risk is cut from 41% to 28% - that's one in eight deaths prevented.

In the House of Commons today, Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said it was a wonderful breakthrough:

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