Experts Say Dexamethasone Could Help Improve Survival Rate In Critical Coronavirus Patients

Experts Say Dexamethasone Could Help Improve Survival Rate In Critical Coronavirus Patients

A steroid called dexamethasone, which is an inexpensive and widely available drug, could help "save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus."

Image Source: Getty Images/Cristobal Marambio

Researchers in the UK say they have found the first evidence of a drug that can improve the survival rate of COVID-19. A steroid called dexamethasone, which is a cheap and widely available drug, could help "save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus," reports BBC News. Per experts, nearly 2000 patients were administered low doses of the inexpensive drug during this experimental treatment. On assessing the performance of the drug, which is now part of the world's biggest trial testing existing treatments, they found that it can reduce death by one-third of COVID-19 on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen. 


The results of this trial led by a team of researchers from Oxford University were announced on Tuesday and it was revealed that the study would be published soon. In the due course of the experiment about 2,000 hospital patients were administered dexamethasone and the results were compared with over 4,000 who given only the usual care. The analysis which is a part of RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy), showed a reduction in the death of patients on ventilators from 40% to 28%. For patients on oxygen, it cut down the risk of deaths by 20% from 25%.


"This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough," shared chief investigator Prof Peter Horby. Based on this experimental trial, lead researcher Professor Martin Landray said that the results suggested that the drug treatment could save one patient in every eight patients on a ventilator, and every 20-25 treated with oxygen. "There is a clear, clear benefit," he expressed, adding how inexpensive the drug actually is. "The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 per patient. So essentially it costs £35 to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available."


Researchers say that the drug could have helped save up to 5,000 lives had it been used to treat patients in the UK right from the beginning of the pandemic. According to the outlet, Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed these results called for a celebration for "a remarkable British scientific achievement." He added, "We have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak." Even Professor Chris Whitty Chief Medical Officer for England said that it would save lives. 


Dexamethasone is not new and expensive medicine. It has been in use as the early 1960s to treat a number of conditions, including asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to its inexpensiveness, the drug could be quite beneficial for poor countries that have a large number of COVID-19 patients. But it's not advisable to purchase Dexamethasone and take it home unless it's prescribed by the doctor as the drug does not appear to be helpful for patients who have milder symptoms of coronavirus or don't need any help breathing. It's important to remember that about 19 in 20 patients recover from the virus without being hospitalized.


Many of the patients who are admitted recover, but for the high-risk ones who require external ventilation dexamethasone could be helpful. Experts say that the medicine appeared to have helped reduce some of the damages in the body when its immune system goes into overdrive in an attempt to fight off coronavirus. This breakthrough is certainly something to celebrate as it could reduce the number of deaths in critical patients suffering from the virus.

Disclaimer: Information about the pandemic is swiftly changing, and McGill Media is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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