This Cheap Steroid Dramatically Reduces COVID-19 Fatalities
Dexamethasone, a cheap steroid that is an anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis, severe allergies, and asthma, has been shown to be effective in the fight against COVID-19 by scientists, Reuters reports.
The drug is able to reduce deaths by up to a third among 2,100 severely ill patients on ventilators and could be used as standard care for such patients.
Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor co-leading the trial of the drug, stated, "This is a result that shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost."
"It’s going to be very hard for any drug really to replace this, given that for less than 50 pounds ($63.26), you can treat eight patients and save a life."
Already available in NHS hospitals
Peter Horby, the co-lead investigator, added, "It is a major breakthrough. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide."
Nick Cammack, an expert on COVID-19 at the Wellcome Trust global health charity, stated that these findings would "transform the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and economies across the world."
He stated, "Countless lives will be saved globally."
The World Health Organization had welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the U.K. that show dexamethasone can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General stated, "This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support. This is great news and I congratulate the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough."
While the drug was hailed as a breakthrough, it left some doctors skeptical due to the recent withdrawal of an influential COVID-19 study.
According to a 2021 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, dexamethasone use resulted in lower 28-day mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or oxygen but was not successful in patients that weren't receiving any respiratory support.
In addition to dexamethasone, there have been other drugs that were shown to be effective against COVID-19 cases such as the antidepressant drug fluvoxamine and the experimental antiviral treatment remdesivir that has been effective during the infection’s onset.
While the initial roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines was successful, these cheap drug therapies could be of great importance for the patients already struggling with the infection.