London: A cheap and widely available drug, dexamethasone, can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus. The low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus, UK experts told BBC.
The drug is part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus.
It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
Had the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved, researchers say. It could be of huge benefit in poorer countries with high numbers of COVID-19 patients, BBC reported.
The clinical trial is known as RECOVERY. “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,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the trial.
His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone – a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation – is “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly.”