Coronavirus: Nebulizer inhaled treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients
Doctors are to begin giving critically ill COVID-19 patients a new treatment as soon as Monday.
The experimental drug, code named SNG001, will initially be given to patients at Southampton General Hospital as part of the first trial of its kind.
The nebulizer inhaled treatment has already been shown to improve the recovery of asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients who have other lung infections, such as flu.
Doctors have high hopes that it could also help stop the coronavirus in its tracks.
Tom Wilkinson, professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton, told Sky News: "We are hoping that the drug will increase the rate of recovery from infection, that it will increase the protection in the bit of the lungs that are not infected yet and will reduce the number of patients that decline significantly and require intubation and ventilation."
The drug is an inhaled formulation of beta-interferon, a naturally occurring protein that orchestrates the body's anti-viral responses.
Scientists believe it will prevent the coronavirus from taking over lung cells to make further copies of itself.