Dexamethasone could be a game-changer in the fight against Coronavirus

by Shatakshi Gupta

In a new study, some UK researchers found that a cheap and easily available drug can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with COVID-19. Dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the Coronavirus. The drug is going through trials for its efficacy against this virus. As per some of the results, it reduces the risk of death by one third for patients on ventilators.

These researchers said that if this drug had been used since beginning the UK alone could have saved more than 5000 lives.

UK Prime Minister said, “this is a remarkable British scientific achievement, We have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak.”

Apex Medical Officer of England said that it would save lives around the world and especially in poor countries where cases are very high.

As per the current situation, about 95 out of 100 patients of COVID-19 recover without being admitted to hospital. And out of those who are admitted, most of them recover easily but some of them need oxygen or mechanical ventilation. Dexamethasone is the drug which helps in recovery of such high-risk patients.

Originally this drug is used to reduce inflammation in a range of other conditions, including arthritis, asthma and some skin conditions.

Not only it reduces chest inflammation but also it arrest the cytokine storm, the condition in which body’s immune system damage body parts in wake of driving away from the virus from the body and sometimes this cytokine storm proves fatal.

In a trial, led by a team of Oxford University, about 2,000 COVID-19 patients, who were admitted in the hospitals were treated with dexamethasone and compared with more than 4,000 who were not. The results were that the patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%.

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Prof. Peter Horby the chief investigator of the team said “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly. It is a major breakthrough.”

However, people should not buy it over the counter as Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of COVID-19, who do not need help with their breathing.

This is the first-ever drug proven to bring down mortalities from Covid-19 and it is not some new, expensive drug but an old and cheap steroid. This discovery is worth celebrating because it means patients across the world could benefit immediately.

More than half of the patients on ventilators succumbed to the virus but this new drug reduced the risk by a third. Dexamethasone is given directly through veins to an ICU patient and in tablet form for less seriously ill patients.

The only other drug proven beneficial for COVID-19 patients is Remdesivir, a drug to treat the Ebola virus. It reduces the duration of symptoms in the patient. This anti viral drug also proved to be effective to some extent in treating the coronavirus patients.