DRUG trial volunteers in Bradford have played a vital role in what a senior doctor has called "the first step in the journey" to cure Covid-19.

It was announced on Tuesday that the common anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators.

For those on oxygen, the study has found it cut deaths by a fifth.

And Bradford volunteers, many of them from BAME communities in the city, have been crucial in the efforts of researchers at Bradford Royal Infirmary to find possible weapons in the fight against the coronavirus as part of the national Recovery study.

Dr Dinesh Saralaya, a consultant respiratory physician and associate director for research at BRI, said: "This the first step in the journey.

"It is not a silver bullet but by autumn if we get three drugs then we can cure Covid-19.

"It is not the end game, it is the start of the journey. Not one drug is needed, we need to add to this."

He said the trial of the anti-viral remdesivir had shown that it did not cut mortality but that dexamethasone was "more game changing".

He added if two other drugs that are effective are found then the combination of the three will mean that the disease could be controlled until a vaccine was available.

He said a similar use of a combination of drugs meant that deaths from pneumonia were very rare nowadays.

The Government has stockpiled 200,000 courses of dexamethasone and the NHS made the steroid available as treatment for patients on ventilators and oxygen from Tuesday afternoon.

And Dr Saralaya had good news on possible future drugs successes too as well because BRI will be one of the few locations that will be conducting a vaccine trial.

The hospital is also trialling an anti-inflammatory drug called tocilizumab and also using plasma containing antibodies from those who have been cured to treat people with Covid-19 pneumonia.

They are among 17 other trials that are being conducted to look for treatments for the virus that has caused more than 40,000 deaths across the UK.

Dr Saralaya was even hopeful that the trials would find a drug that was even more effective than dexamethasone.

He said the hospital was a lot less busy now than at the height of the epidemic.

The vast majority of patients were getting better and the new drug would improve the standard of care staff could give.

He said Bradford had been one of the highest recruiters of volunteers for drug trials in West Yorkshire, with 45% of them coming from BAME communities making them very representative of the city.

More than 20 took part in the dexamethasone trial locally.