In a recent drug trial for Covid-19, Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available drug was found to be extremely effective in saving seriously ill patients.
UK research experts believe that this low-dose steroid is a crucial breakthrough in the battle against the global pandemic.
Dexamethasone has proved to cut the risk by a third for patients on ventilators, while for those on oxygen by fifth.
The drug was included in the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatment to see if they can help in treating coronavirus infected.
The cheap and readily available drug could prove to be extremely beneficial to the pandemic crisis in India and other poor countries.
According to trial results in the UK, it was found that the high-risk patients who need oxygen and ventilator, for them Dexamethasone was helpful.
Previously, Dexamethasone was used to reduce inflammation in a range of other conditions and the trials indicate that it helps to stop some of the damage when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight the virus. The overreaction is known as Cytokine storm and it can be fatal.
A team of Oxford University performed trials on around 2000 hospital patients who were treated with Dexamethasone and the results were compared with about 4000 patients who were not given the drug.
For patients on the ventilator, the risk of death was reduced from 40% to 28%, while for those in the oxygen risk of death was reduced from 25% to 20%.
According to Chief investigator of the drug trial, Prof. Peter Horby, “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a breakthrough.”
Lead researcher of the trial, Prof. Martin Landray says the findings suggest that for every eight patients treated on ventilators, you could save one life. For those patients treated with oxygen, you save one life for approximately every 20-25 patients treated with the drug.
Prof. Landray said when appropriate, hospital patients should now be given it without delay, but people should not go out and buy it to take at home.
For those with mild symptoms of coronavirus, the patients who don’t need help while breathing – Dexamethasone does not appear to help.
The RECOVERY Trial have been conducting human trials since March. It included the much-hyped Hydroxychloroquine, which was dropped over concerns relating to the increase in fatalities and heart disease. Dexamethasone has been in existence since the 1960s to help with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
For the patients in the ventilator, the risk of death is 50% and it has helped to reduce the risk by a third, this could make a huge impact on the rising death tolls. Further, the easy availability of the drug across the globe provides an upper edge in combating the coronavirus.
Until now, Remdesivir is the only drug that has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of coronavirus. Remdesivir is an antiviral drug developed for the treatment of Ebola.
The new drug, Dexamethasone, could prove to be a beacon of hope in these times of uncertainty about the future of humankind.