A low-cost steroid dexamethasone (which is typically used to reduce inflammation) has been identified as the first drug to improve survival rates in certain coronavirus patients.
The low-dose treatment is reportedly a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus according to the National Institute for Health Research in the UK.
It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
The steroid reduced deaths by 35% in COVID-19 patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen, researchers say. It did not appear to help less ill patients.https://t.co/4NZduplvOH
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 16, 2020
In the trial, led by a team from Oxford University, around 2,000 patients were given dexamethasone and were compared with more than 4,000 who did not receive the drug.
For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%.
However Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus – those who don’t need help with their breathing.