Steroid dexamethasone shows ‘major breakthrough’ in reducing deaths from severe coronavirus

Treating coronavirus patients with the generic steroid dexamethasone cut death rates by around a third for those with the most serious cases of the virus, data from a UK-led clinical trial revealed on Tuesday.

Scientists have called the results a “major breakthrough” and the study’s researchers said the generic drug should become standard care in hospitalised coronavirus patients, Reuters reported.

The results suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease, the researchers who led the trials, told Reuters.

“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,” Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor co-leading the trial, known as the RECOVERY trial, told reporters in an online briefing.

“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,” Landray added.

His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, referred to dexamethasone as “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly.”

“It is a major breakthrough,” Horby added.

“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.” he said.

To date, there are currently no approved vaccines or treatments for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 431,000 globally.

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