Boris Johnson struggles with names of Covid-19 drugs

NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab that can significantly reduce the risk of death from coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson struggled with pronouncing the names of two tongue-twisting drugs that can significantly reduce the risk of death from coronavirus as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.

NHS patients will have access to tocilizumab and sarilumab under updated guidance due to be issued on Friday by the Government and the NHS to trusts across the UK.

However, the names of the treatments do not roll off the tongue and caught the Prime Minister out at the Downing Street press conference on Thursday.

He said: “I am pleased to tell you today, British scientific research has now contributed to the creation of more new life-saving treatments that have just passed rigorous clinical trials.”

Emphasising each syllable, he added: “In particular toci-lizu-mub.

“Sorry, I will say that again, tocilizumab, and sarilumab – they will shortly be on everybody’s lips – which have been found to reduce the risk of death for critically ill patients by almost a quarter

“They cut time spent in intensive care by as much as 10 days.

“These lifesaving drugs will be available through the NHS with immediate effect, potentially saving thousands of lives.”

The drugs, which are typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, are named as is common for other similar medications.

The suffix mab at the end of their names signals that they are monoclonal antibody drugs.

An antibody is a protein produced by the body’s immune system in response to antigens, which are harmful substances.

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