An affordable steroid, dexamethasone, might be the first drug proven to improve survival of those with COVID-19, researchers in the U.K. say.
A research team from the University of Oxford announced the results in a press release Tuesday, though full results have not yet been published.
In a trial of 2,104 patients who received either low-dose dexamethasone or usual care, dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in patients who required ventilation and one-fifth in patients who required supplemental oxygen.
The effect of dexamethasone was most striking among critically ill patients on ventilators. Those who were receiving oxygen therapy but were not on ventilators also saw improvement: their risk of dying was reduced by 20%. The steroid had no effect on people with mild cases of COVID-19 — those not receiving oxygen or ventilation.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid typically used to reduce inflammation, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. It’s used to treat conditions like allergies, asthma, arthritis, kidney problems and flare-ups of multiple sclerosis.
No matter how promising the drug might be, it won’t replace preventative measures like washing your hands and staying two metres away from others, and we need to continue working to ‘flatten the curve’ of new cases.