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The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) Trial was set up in March 2020 to evaluate treatments for people hospitalised with COVID-19. To maximise recruitment it was designed to fit into routine clinical care throughout the UK, and as a result it has enrolled more patients than any other COVID-19 treatment trial. RECOVERY has shown four drugs to be life-saving - dexamethasone, tocilizumab, baricitinib and casirivimab-imdevimab - and a further six have been shown to be of little or no benefit. In each case, results from RECOVERY were clear enough to rapidly influence global practice. Some of the reasons for this success relate to its particular setting in the UK during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but many are generalisable to other contexts. In particular, its focus on recruiting large numbers of patients to identify or rule out moderate but worthwhile benefits of treatment, and the design decisions that followed from this. Similar large streamlined trials could produce similarly clear answers about the treatment of many other common diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


Advances in biological regulation

Publication Date



Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK. Electronic address: