Tocilizumab: what is the arthritis drug used to treat Covid - and how to pronounce tocilizumab?
Mr Johnson, in lauding the use of the drug, attempted to say ‘tocilizumab’ several times while in conversation with chief medical officer Chris Witty.
Viewers were left puzzled as the PM had several goes trying to pronounce tocilizumab - a drug being used in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
Here’s a look at the drug often used for sufferers of arthritis, as well as Mr Johnson’s attempts at saying ‘tocilizumab’.
What is tocilizumab and how can it help Covid patients?
Tocilizumab is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that is being used by medics in the National Health Service (NHS) in response to Covid infection.
Early results from a clinical trial in January showed the drug significantly reduced the risk of death for intensive care unit patients, as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.
The drug, swiftly made available for use by the NHS to treat coronavirus patients, could help save the lives of one in 25 patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus.
It could also reduce the need for a mechanical ventilator.
Researchers found that when the drug was given alongside a steroid, known as dexamethasone, tocilizumab reduced the absolute risk of mortality by four percentage points.
The drug was found to reduce the relative risk of death by 14% and cut the time spent in hospital by five days when used for patients on oxygen and in addition to the dexamethasone.
How much does tocilizumab cost?
Treatment with tocilizumab is thought to cost around £500 and is administered intravenously.
More than 4,000 patients were involved in the trial, with 2,022 patients randomly allocated to receive tocilizumab, while the rest received the usual standard care.
A majority (82%) of the patients were taking a steroid such as dexamethasone as part of the standard care.
The researchers found that 596 (29%) of the patients in the tocilizumab group died within 28 days, compared with 694 (33%) patients in the usual care group.
Tocilizumab also significantly reduced the chance of progressing to invasive mechanical ventilation or death from 38% to 33% among those who were not on invasive ventilation when entered into the trial, the researchers said.
How have the findings been received?
Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and joint chief investigator for Recovery, welcomed the results.
He said: “Previous trials of tocilizumab had shown mixed results, and it was unclear which patients might benefit from the treatment.
“We now know that the benefits of tocilizumab extend to all Covid patients with low oxygen levels and significant inflammation.
“The double impact of dexamethasone plus tocilizumab is impressive and very welcome.”
How do you pronounce tocilizumab?
During Monday’s press conference, Mr Johnson asked Chris Witty: “What was the name of that drug again?”
Mr Whitty replied: “Tocilizumab.”
Not happy with his own pronunciation of the drug, Mr Johnson said: “We need to get this right.”
Mr Johnson made several attempts to pronounce the word correctly before Mr Whitty concluded: “Close enough.”
Though it may be difficult to say, the drug is helping the NHS in the fight against Covid.
Breaking the word down, it is pronounced: “Toe-si-liz-oo-mab.”