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Infectious Diseases

Dexamethasone Becomes the First Drug Confirmed to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality

Posted on 16 June 2020

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Dexamethasone, an inexpensive corticosteroid used primarily to treat inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, appears to be effective in reducing mortality amongst COVID-19 patients.

Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication

A randomised trial lead by a team from Oxford University compared around 2000 patients receiving the drug for 10 days to 4000 patients who did not. Based on their results, dexamethasone would reduce deaths by a third amongst ventilated patients, and by a fifth amongst patients that only require oxygen. The drug can be taken orally, or given intravenously to those who are severely ill.

Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

COVID-19 infections become life-threatening when the patient’s immune system ‘goes into overdrive’ fighting the virus, damaging the lungs and making it harder to breathe, damaging the kidneys, or causing blood pressure to drop dangerously. Dexamthethasone appears to suppress inflammation enough to stop some of this damage. Further details of the study are to be released soon.

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    Low-cost dexamethasone reduces death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19:

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