A CITY doctor has sought to ease fears about the rising infection rate in the city after two arthritis drugs are approved for use in the fight against coronavirus.

The medicines Sarilumab and Tocilizumab, which are used to treat arthritis, have been approved for use to treat severe Covid cases and are being used at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

There are suggestions the drugs could reduce the risk of death by 24 per cent following strong results in trials.

Dr Jason Seewoodhary, GP at Barbourne Medical Centre in Worcester, said the approval of the arthritis medicines for use on the most severe Covid patients is another reason to stay positive despite the "dire" situation currently.

"The Covid pandemic has caused excess deaths to rise to their highest level since World War Two," he said.

"In 2020 there were close to 697,000 deaths in the UK - nearly 91,000 more than the average in the previous five years representing an increase of 15% - making it the largest rise in excess deaths for more than 75 years.

"This has caused a high degree of anxiety, worry and panic amongst patients and communities, which was compounded by the recent discovery of a new variant of the virus that is 70 per cent more transmissible and more likely to infect children. This has put an enormous strain on the NHS resources and service delivery.

"There is no getting away from it: at this moment, the coronavirus situation seems pretty dire.

"However, there are more reasons to be positive.

"Two new life-saving Covid-19 treatments, namely Sarilumab and Tocilizumab, that could cut hospital waiting times by 10 days and reduce the risk of death by 24 per cent for critically ill patients, have now been approved.

"It’s absolutely essential that we all comply with the rules to reduce the spread-, disease-burden, and death-rate from Covid-19 infection and protect the NHS."

The vaccine rollout is in full swing in Worcestershire and Dr Seewoodhary says the expectation is that most adults will have received their jabs by the autumn.

"Mass vaccination has now started," he said.

"Over 2.5 million patients in the UK have been vaccinated starting with those at highest risk.

"By mid-February all those in tiers 1 and 2 will be vaccinated and it is expected that by autumn all adults aged will be vaccinated.

"Reassuringly, the new variant is unlikely to render either the Pfizer or the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines ineffective.

"Both vaccines are licensed to be given three and four weeks apart respectively, however, to ensure that more people are vaccinated the government has increased this interval to 12 weeks, which may potentially affect the effectiveness of the vaccine."