The initial trials have been extremely encouraging.
Patients who are critically ill due to coronavirus may benefit from a widely available and cheap drug that could save their lives. As reported by the BBC, dexamethasone (a corticosteroid), given in low doses, is emerging as the first major breakthrough in the fight against the virus. This drug is a part of numerous other existing drugs that are being tested for their effects against the virus, during the time it may take for a new anti-virus to be developed.
According to the report on the BBC, the researchers say that almost 5,000 lives could have been saved if the drug had been used since the very beginning. The effect of this drug has been most pronounced in critical cases. The report said, "It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth." This is a huge boost for the medical community as they can see 33% and 20% of the cases get better with its usage.
Speaking about their findings, lead researcher Prof. Martin Landray said the research suggested one life could be saved for every eight patients on a ventilator, and every 20-25 treated with oxygen. He said, "There is a clear, clear benefit. The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 per patient." This is highly affordable as compared to the cost of ventilators. He added, "So essentially it costs £35 to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available."
The Chief Medical Officer for England Prof. Chris Whitty also released the news with a tweet. He wrote, "This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug. Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world."
This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far. Significiant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug. Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world. https://t.co/zRIaHulHOe— Professor Chris Whitty (@CMO_England) June 16, 2020
Previously, one other drug showed promising results against the virus. This drug, Remdisivir, is relatively new and the price is not yet determined. This drug still has to undergo numerous tests before it could be declared safe and effective against the virus. In this situation, dexamethasone can have far-reaching consequences as the drug is available in almost all the countries and at highly affordable rates.
According to the report published by the BBC, the health analyst Fergus Walsh wrote, "Dexamethasone has been used since the early 1960s to treat a wide range of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma." He added, "Half of all Covid patients who require a ventilator do not survive, so cutting that risk by a third would have a huge impact."
Research, however, is still not complete and people have been advised not to administer any drug on their own without consulting a physician. But there is hope that some helpful drug may emerge soon that could provide relief to millions of people now affected on a global scale.