Low-Dose Steroid Treatment Hailed as Major Breakthrough in Fighting Coronavirus

A picture taken on June 16, 2020 in Paris shows tablets of Dectancyl, a drug manufactured by Sanofi containing dexamethasone. - The steroid dexamethasone has been found to save the lives of one third of the most serious COVID-19 cases, according to trial results hailed on June 16, 2020 as …
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty

Low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone could be a major breakthrough in the battle against the coronavirus, according to health experts in the United Kingdom. They say the drug could cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and a fifth for those requiring oxygen.

The BBC reported on the development:

Had the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved, researchers say. And it could be of huge benefit in poorer countries with high numbers of Covid-19 patients.

About 19 out of 20 patients with coronavirus recover without being admitted to hospital. Of those who are admitted to hospital, most also recover, but some may need oxygen or mechanical ventilation. These are the high-risk patients whom dexamethasone appears to help.

The drug is already used to reduce inflammation in a range of other conditions, and it appears that it helps stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight off coronavirus.

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