In a major breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19, Oxford researchers have found a drug that can save the lives of critically ill Coronavirus patients.
Known as “Dexamethasone,” the drug has proven to reduce the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen.
The low-dose Dexamethasone is one of the six drugs currently being evaluated in the biggest trial worldwide to determine the efficacy of existing treatments against the COVID-19 infection.
In addition to Dexamethasone, researchers are studying the effectiveness of Lopinavir-Ritonavir, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, Tocilizumab, and Convalescent plasma therapy against Coronavirus infection.
During the trial, around 2,000 patients were administered Dexamethasone as researchers compared the results with 4,000 other patients who were treated without Dexamethasone.
Researchers found that Dexamethasone reduced the risk of death from 40% to 28% in patients on ventilators while it brought down the risk of death from 25% to 20% in patients requiring oxygen.
This means the drug can help save 1 out 8 COVID-19 patients on ventilators while it can save 1 out of 20-25 patients on oxygen.
Chief investigator of the trial, Professor Peter Horby has said:
Dexamethasone is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.
Lead researcher of trial, Professor Martin Landray has said that Dexamethasone is a cheap and widely available drug that can have a huge impact in poorer countries struggling with high numbers of COVID-19 patients.
There is a clear, clear benefit. 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 globally available drug.
Experts have argued that Dexamethasone could have saved 5,000 lives in the UK alone, had it been administered on patients in the early days of the outbreak.