London, Jun 16 (efe-epa).- A cheap and widely-available steroid has been found to save the lives of serious coronavirus patients, according to an University of Oxford study published Tuesday.
The report said a total of 2,104 randomly selected patients were chosen for the trial and that each was given a daily dose of 6mg of dexamethasone, which is widely used as an anti-inflammatory drug, for 10 days. The results were then compared with 4,321 patients receiving the usual care administered for Covid-19.
The 28-day mortality rates observed in patients not receiving the steroid were 41 percent in those on ventilation, 25 percent in those requiring oxygen but not ventilation and 13 percent in those not requiring respiratory intervention.
Researchers found that dexamethasone reduced deaths in patients on ventilation by a third and those on oxygen by a fifth. There was no benefit for those with no breathing apparatus.
“Based on these results, 1 death would be prevented by treatment of around 8 ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone,” the report said.
In the UK, for every 20 patients who contract coronavirus, roughly 19 recover at home without the need for hospital attention, the report said.
The United Kingdom government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: “This is tremendous news today from the Recovery trial showing that dexamethasone is the first drug to reduce mortality from COVID-19.
“It is particularly exciting as this is an inexpensive widely available medicine. This is a ground-breaking development in our fight against the disease, and the speed at which researchers have progressed finding an effective treatment is truly remarkable.
“It shows the importance of doing high quality clinical trials and basing decisions on the results of those trials.”
One of the trial’s chief investigators, Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, said it was “fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide.”
The cost of administering dexamethasone for a 10 days period costs around $6.2 per patient, according to the researchers.
The UK government said the National Health Service would make the low-cost steroid available to patients. EFE