For months, medical professionals and scientists have been looking for a treatment which could combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Has the answer finally been found? With over 8 million confirmed cases globally and over 446 000 deaths, is there a glimmer of hope?
It seems that the steroid, dexamethasone, is being hailed as a breakthrough treatment to reduce fatalities among severely ill COVID-19 patients.
In a statement, the University of Oxford explains a total of 2104 patients were randomised to receive 6mg of dexamethasone once per day for ten days. They were then compared with 4321 patients who were randomised to usual care alone.
The tests showed that dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators. It also reduced deaths by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen support.
Based on these results, 1 death would be prevented by treatment of around 8 ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone.
Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the trial, said, ‘Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result. 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.’
Dexamethasone is usually used to treat arthritis and breathing disorders.
Furthermore, it can possibly be a cost-effective treatment against COVID-19. Currently, the regulated price in South Africa for Dexamethasone is between R149 and R176.
“This is great news and I congratulate the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General for the World Health Organisation (WHO).
After months of uncertainty, it seems that the scientific world will soon overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.