Britain’s scientists provided hope in the fight against coronavirus with the successful trial of dexamethasone – a cheap steroid that reduces deaths by a third among the most severely ill patients.
Researchers at the University of Oxford announced after trials showed the drug could save lives – the first internationally to do so, it is set to become the standard of care for the National Health Service (NHS) across Britain. It is hoped that Doctors around the world will, undoubtedly, follow suit.
The anti-inflammatory drug has been hailed as a ground-breaking treatment for hospital patients seriously ill with Covid-19. It’s a steroid that reduces inflammation by mimicking anti-inflammatory hormones produced by the body.
This drug works by dampening down the body’s immune system. Coronavirus infection triggers inflammation as the body tries to fight it off.
But sometimes the immune system goes into overdrive and it’s this reaction can prove fatal – the very reaction designed to attack infection ends up attacking the body’s own cells.
Dexamethasone calms this effect but it is only suitable for people who are already in hospital and receiving oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
The drug does not work on people with milder symptoms, because suppressing their immune system at this point would not be helpful.
According to the scientists who carried out the trials, one in three deaths could be prevented among patients on ventilators.
For patients on oxygen, it could prevent one death in five.
There was no significant benefit for patients who were not receiving respiratory support.