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Steroid drug hailed as ‘breakthrough’ in Covid-19 fight as trial shows it saves lives

Steroid drug hailed as ‘breakthrough’ in Covid-19 fight as trial shows it saves lives
LONDON, JUN 16 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 6/16/2020 1:03:01 PM IST

A  cheap and widely-used steroid called dexamethasone has become the first drug shown to be able to save lives among Covid-19 patients in what scientists said is a “major breakthrough” in the coronavirus pandemic.

Trial results announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone, which is used to reduce inflammation in other diseases such as arthritis, reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital. The preliminary results suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease, said the researchers who led the trials.

The researchers said they would work to publish the full details of the trial as soon as possible, with some scientists saying they wished to review the evidence for themselves. “This is a (trial) 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, an Oxford University professor co-leading the trial, known as the RECOVERY trial. His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone was “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly.”

“It is a major breakthrough,” he said. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.” There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said Tuesday’s announcement was “the most important trial result for Covid-19 so far”, adding: “It will save lives around the world”.

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