UK researchers find first life-saving drug for critical Covid-19 patients

Trial results suggest drug should immediately be prescribed to patients treated in hospitals with pandemic disease


Reuters June 16, 2020
Trial results suggest drug should immediately be prescribed to patients treated in hospitals with pandemic disease. PHOTO: FILE

LONDON: Giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection, trial data showed on Tuesday.

The results, described as a “major breakthrough” by scientists leading the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said.

“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.”

“It is a major breakthrough,” he said.

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus which has killed more than 431,000 globally.

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