Coronavirus: Dexamethasone proves first life-saving drug

corona testCorona test.Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB scanpix


British scientists say they have found the first drug that has proven to reduce the mortality rate of those who are critically ill with the Coronavirus.

The drug is a steroid called dexamethasone, which until now has been used to reduce inflammation against  arthritis and asthma as well as a variety of allergic reactions.  

Researchers led by a a team at the University of Oxford have tested the medicine on a randomly selected group of over 2,000 Coronavirus patients. They were compared to over 4,000 patients who received other types of treatment.

Significantly reduced mortality
Among patients who were on respirators and receiving dexamethasone, mortality was reduced from 40 to 28 percent, while it was reduced from 25 to 20 percent for those who only needed extra oxygen.

“If these preliminary figures are correct, this could have a major impact on the treatment of Covid-19 globally,” said Steinar Madsen, Medical Director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, VG.

Madsen added that the drug has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, is reasonable and is used in several conditions in Norway but it has not been clinically tested against Covid-19 here.

“The fact that there are such a high number of patients in the study gives greater assurance that the findings made are correct. Recovery also has studies of high scientific quality,” he says.

“Major breakthrough”
“This is the only medicine that has so far proven to reduce mortality. And it is significantly reduced. This is a major breakthrough,” said Professor Peter Horby at the University of Oxford, according to the BBC.

The finding is particularly welcome, as about 40 percent of those who need a respirator due to Covid-19 usually die.

A daily dose of the steroid can prevent one-eighth of these deaths, according to the study.

To be used immediately
The research results will be officially published shortly. Dexamethasone is both relatively inexpensive and readily available, and the UK authorities will use the medicine immediately.

The UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said the British government began to build up a stockpile of medicine after seeing the first signs suggesting it was effective three months ago.

Researchers say there could have been 5,000 fewer Coronavirus deaths in the UK if dexamethasone had been used since the onset of the outbreak.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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