A cheap, common steroid improves survival rates for COVID-19 patients on ventilators. The drug, called dexamethasone, reduced deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators. And by one-fifth in patients who needed supplemental oxygen. It did not help patients who were able to breathe on their own.
Steroids like dexamethasone blunt inflammation in the body. Researchers think that some patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Have dangerously high levels of inflammation. As part of an overactive immune response to the virus. And that calming that down with an anti-inflammatory like dexamethasone could help ease their symptoms. That’s also why people shouldn’t take this drug to try to prevent COVID-19 it suppresses the immune system and could make it harder to fight off the virus. Researchers think the drug helps. When someone’s illness gets severe enough that inflammation is more dangerous than the virus itself.
Dexamethasone tested as part of the Recovery trial at the University of Oxford. Unlike some of the early data on drugs like hydroxychloroquine and redeliver. This data came from a randomized, controlled clinical trial. The team gave the drug to 2,104 patients and compared them to 4,321 other patients who treated without it. The patients on ventilators or oxygen in the group that received the drug. Were more likely to survive than those who did not, according to the released data.
What is so important is that dexamethasone is so cheap.
We've seen poorer countries struggle to deal with the virus, but most can access this drug easily so countless lives could be saved. It can help patients on oxygen too.
Some much-needed good news for the whole world.
— Professor Karol Sikora (@ProfKarolSikora) June 16, 2020
Dexamethasone is the first drug shown to improve survival in COVID-19. Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the University of Oxford. And a chief investigator on the trial said in a statement. “The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to need oxygen treatment.”
The drug is inexpensive and widely available, so it could be immediately accessible to patients.