A low-dose steroid treatment of the drug dexamethasone has proven to be a major breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19. Scientists and researchers in the United Kingdom have been tirelessly working on a coronavirus vaccine since March, and now, they’re claiming that this cheap and widely available drug could help save the lives of patients who are currently infected with the virus.
Dexamethasone is a drug that is a part of the world’s biggest trial testing current Covid-19 treatments, so the research is extensive. So far, scientists have found that the drug can cut the risk of death due to the coronavirus by a third for patients who are on ventilators. For those who are on oxygen, it can cut the risk of death by a fifth.
The researchers behind this specific trial have claimed that if dexamethasone was used to treat patients infected with the coronavirus when this pandemic initially began, 5,000 lives could have potentially been saved.
This breakthrough is especially beneficial for countries that are lacking medical supplies and other proper resources to combat this pandemic. The UK government currently claims to have 200,000 counts of the drug in its stockpite and the National Health Service will make them available to all patients currently battling Covid-19.
“This is a genuine case to celebrate a remarkable British scientific achievement. We have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, claims that this drug could save countless lives all around the world. About 19 out of 20 high-risk patients who have used dexamethasone as a part of their treatment have recovered from Covid-19 without being admitted to the hospital, and those who were admitted typically recovered with the help of oxygen.
Dexamethasone was previously used as an anti-inflammatory for individuals suffering from asthma, arthritis, and some other skin-related conditions. Intense internal inflammation has been one of the most damaging symptoms of Covid-19, and the drug is proving to help stop some of the damage inflicted on the body’s immune system due to this inflammation.
The trial was led by Oxford University and about 2,000 hospital patients were given the drug while 4,000 other patients were given a placebo as the control group. Patients on ventilators saw their risk of death go from 40% down to 28%, while those on oxygen saw their risk of death go from 25% to 20%.
“It’s a major breakthrough. The findings suggested one life could be saved for every eight patients on a ventilator and every 20-25 treated with oxygen. There is a clear, clear benefit. Also, the treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 ($5.63) per patient. So essentially it costs £35 ($39.43) to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available,” Lead researcher Professor Martin Landray said.
Professor Landray went on to say that at this point, hospital patients with Covid-19 should be given dexamethasone without hesitation. He also emphasized that this drug has proven to be relatively ineffective for patients with mild symptoms who don’t need help with their breathing, however, as long as they remain quarantined, they should be fine.
Research for a vaccine is still underway, but in the meantime this drug treatment is going to be most patients’ best bet at recovery. Continue to socially distance, self-quarantine, and wear a mask whenever in a public setting. We’re all in this together until we find a real cure for this deadly virus.