Coronavirus latest news: Boris Johnson urges MPs to back lockdown or face ‘bleak, uncertain future’

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, said work on treatments for coronavirus has mostly been a “story of success”, but highlighted the need for more recruitment for trials.

Asked what the challenges have been in getting randomised control trials running, he told the House of Commons science and technology committee: “I think we’ve been very successful. It’s probably true to say that the UK, of any country, has been the most successful in running clinical trials for treatment of Covid-19.”

About 150 patients are being recruited each day into the Recovery trial on potential coronavirus therapies, he said.

“It’s mostly a story of success. But at the same time the system is very stretched,” he said, adding that just about 10 per cent of patients in hospital are being recruited.

Prof Horby said researchers expect to get an answer on the use of convalescent plasma in six to eight weeks but that time could be halved if recruitment of patients was doubled.

“So we have 10 per cent of patients enrolled. That means 90 per cent are not enrolled,” he said, adding that while some hospitals are enrolling up to 35 per cent patients, there are some hospitals which have recruited no one into the Recovery trial.

“So there is scope for improvement,” he said, adding that more marketing of the trials would be helpful.