Cheap, Widely Available Drug Proven To Treat COVID-19

By Bill Galluccio

June 16, 2020

Researchers in London have found a drug that can treat patients who have suffered severe complications from COVID-19. In a large study, over 2,100 patients who were hospitalized were given dexamethasone, a steroid used to treat arthritis, allergic reactions, and certain skin and eye conditions, were compared to over 4,000 patients who did not receive the drug.

They found that the patients who were given dexamethasone had a much higher rate of recovery than those who were not. After 28 days, they found that patients who were on ventilators were 35% less likely to die, while patients who were on oxygen saw the risk of death drop by 20%.

"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, a co-leader on the trial.

The drug only appears to help patients who are suffering from the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. The treatment did not help patients suffering from less severe symptoms. 

According to the BBC, the researchers believe that if dexamethasone had been used to treat patients when the coronavirus outbreak began, more than 5,000 lives could have been saved in the U.K.

"This is an extremely welcome result," one study leader, Peter Horby of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. "The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become the standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide."

Photo: Getty Images

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