COVID-19: Steroid drug shown to save lives of severest cases

Wednesday, 17 Jun, 2020

A low-priced anti-inflammatory drug appears to reduce the risk of death in patients with COVID-19.

Oxford: A low-priced drug developed in the United Kingdom has reduced deaths from COVID-19 patients on ventilators, by a third in that country, scientists from Oxford University have claimed. There was no benefit among patients who did not require respiratory support.

Recruitment to the dexamethasone arm of the trial was stopped on June 8, as a sufficient number of patients were enrolled to determine if the drug had meaningful benefit.

It should only be taken as exactly described by your doctor.

The drug is part of the world's biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus. The full study has not yet been published and has not yet been subject to scientific scrutiny.

What have researchers involved in the trial said on the results?

As researchers across the globe are racing to find a treatment for the novel coronavirus, a recent clinical trial has shown that a generic steroid drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths among COVID-19 patients on ventilator by one-third.

Clinical trials that included hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment have been suspended. During the study, about 2,100 COVID-19 patients were treated with dexamethasone for 10 days.

Based on their findings, the Oxford scientists said, the drug would prevent one death for every eight ventilated patients.

Among those not requiring respiratory intervention the figure was 13%.

It's called dexamethasone, with BBC News labeling it as the "first life-saving coronavirus drug". Dexamethasone is a steroid that blocks/mediates the immune response.

About 19 out of 20 patients with coronavirus recover without being admitted to hospital. "It shows it is possible to reduce the inflammation and outcome of those in hospital". The National Institutes of Health is conducting a study of an Eli Lilly pill targeting rheumatoid arthritis, an extension of the study that showed remdesivir has a benefit.

Those are promising findings, and it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory drug would be effective against a disease that's most harmful when it spurs excess inflammation in the body.

The result, should it hold up to further scrutiny, shows the benefit of the strategy of Horby and Martin Landray, the Oxford researchers who designed the study, leveraging the United Kingdom health system to start a study of multiple affordable potential Covid-19 therapies - including hydroxychloroquine, dexamethasone, and also some older HIV medicines. Presently, over 100 experimental COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO).