An inexpensive and widely-available steroid drug, dexamethasone, has reportedly become the first drug that has saved the lives of patients that are seriously ill with COVID-19. Scientists in the United Kingdom are touting the drug, which is effective at low doses, as a “major breakthrough” in the coronavirus pandemic.
The drug is part of the world’s largest trial looking into existing drugs and treatments to see if any of them are also effective against the coronavirus. The study reportedly found that dexamethasone, which is otherwise used to reduce inflammation in diseases like arthritis, also reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients that were admitted to hospitals in the UK.
For COVID-19 patients on ventilators, the dexamethasone treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.