Coronavirus: Dexamethasone proves first life-saving drug

Patients should be given the cheap drug without delay, after "fantastic" trial results, experts say.

A cheap and widely available drug can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus.

The low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus, UK experts say.

The drug is part of the world's biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus.

It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.

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.

The UK government has 200,000 courses of the drug in its stockpile and says the NHS will make dexamethasone available to patients.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a genuine case to celebrate "a remarkable British scientific achievement", adding: "We have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak."

Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty said it would save lives around the world.

About 19 out of 20 patients with coronavirus recover without being admitted to hospital.

Of those who are admitted, most also recover but some may need oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

And these are the high-risk patients dexamethasone appears to help.

The drug is already used to reduce inflammation in a range of other conditions, including arthritis, asthma and some skin conditions.

And it appears to help stop some of the damage that can happen when the body's immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight off coronavirus.

This over-reaction, a cytokine storm, can be deadly.

In the trial, led by a team from Oxford University, about 2,000 hospital patients were given dexamethasone and compared with more than 4,000 who were not.

For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%.

For patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%.

Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: "This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough."

Lead researcher Prof Martin Landray said the findings suggested one life could be saved for:

 
  • every eight patients on a ventilator
  • every 20-25 treated with oxygen

"There is a clear, clear benefit," he said.

"The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 per patient.

"So essentially it costs £35 to save a life.

"This is a drug that is globally available."

When appropriate, hospital patients should now be given it without delay, Prof Landray said.

But people should not go out and buy it to take at home.

Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus who do not need help with their breathing.

The Recovery Trial, running since March, also looked at the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has subsequently been ditched amid concerns it increases fatalities and heart problems.

The antiviral drug remdesivir, meanwhile, which appears to shorten recovery time for people with coronavirus, is already being made available on the NHS.

The first drug proven to cut deaths from Covid-19 is not some new, expensive medicine but an old, cheap-as-chips steroid.

That is something to celebrate because it means patients across the world could benefit immediately.

And that is why the top-line results of this trial have been rushed out - because the implications are so huge globally.

Dexamethasone has been used since the early 1960s to treat a wide range of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Half of all Covid patients who require a ventilator do not survive, so cutting that risk by a third would have a huge impact.

The drug is given intravenously in intensive care and in tablet form for less seriously ill patients.

So far, the only other drug proven to benefit Covid patients is remdesivir, which has been used for Ebola.

That has been shown to reduce the duration of coronavirus symptoms from 15 days to 11.

But the evidence was not strong enough to show whether it reduced mortality.

Unlike dexamethasone, remdesivir is a new drug with limited supplies and a price has yet to be announced. BBC

 
 

Other News

.
Social insurance policy - Welfare fulcrum of the people
Social insurance policy - Welfare fulcrum of the people
SOCIETYicon  01/06/2020 

On May 23, the Vietnam Social Security (VSS) and the Vietnam Post (VNPost) jointly organized the launching ceremony to respond to the month-long campaign that calls for people to participate in voluntary social insurance.

Comprehensive reform of social insurance propaganda
Comprehensive reform of social insurance propaganda
SOCIETYicon  14/06/2020 

The goal is to have 100% of officials, party members and employees be informed of the contents of the reformed social insurance policy.

Long heat wave predicted for Vietnam's northern and central regions
Long heat wave predicted for Vietnam's northern and central regions
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

According to the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecasting, the northern and central regions will experience a new long heat wave with a highest temperature of over 40 degrees starting from July 6.

Fire burns wood workshop in Vung Tau City
Fire burns wood workshop in Vung Tau City
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

A fire broke out at a wood workshop in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Vung Tau City early Monday morning, destroying 300 square metres of the workshop.

Northern Lao Cai province hardest hit by heavy rain
Northern Lao Cai province hardest hit by heavy rain
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

Torrential rain and heavy floods over the weekend have caused almost damage worth almost a half million USD to northern mountainous provinces.

Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case
Brain-eating amoeba: Warning issued in Florida after rare infection case
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

A case of a rare brain-eating amoeba has been confirmed in Florida, according to health officials in the US state.

China bubonic plague: Inner Mongolia takes precautions after case
China bubonic plague: Inner Mongolia takes precautions after case
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

A rural herdsman tested positive for the infection, which can be treated with antibiotics.

Italy migrant crisis: 180 migrants allowed off rescue ship
Italy migrant crisis: 180 migrants allowed off rescue ship
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

After days of stand-off the passengers, who include children, will be taken into quarantine in Sicily.

Coronavirus: FDA chief refuses to back Trump's vaccine prediction
Coronavirus: FDA chief refuses to back Trump's vaccine prediction
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The head of the US drugs regulator has cast doubt on President Donald Trump's prediction that a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready this year.

Iran nuclear: Natanz fire caused 'significant' damage
Iran nuclear: Natanz fire caused 'significant' damage
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

Iranian officials say cyber sabotage may be behind the blaze, which damaged a key nuclear facility.

Coronavirus: Australia to close Victoria-New South Wales border
Coronavirus: Australia to close Victoria-New South Wales border
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The border between Australia's two most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), is to close after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Melbourne.

Changes in visas for travel to border or coastal economic areas
Changes in visas for travel to border or coastal economic areas
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The Government has issued Decree No 75/2020/NĐ-CP with detailed regulations on adopting the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam, also known as Immigration Law 2019, which aims to attract foreign investment.  

Diphtheria claims three lives, 34 test positive in central Vietnam
Diphtheria claims three lives, 34 test positive in central Vietnam
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The Ministry of Health has asked Central Highlands provinces to take urgent preventive measures against diphtheria after 34 people have tested positive and three have died of the disease there.

COVID-19 in Vietnam - the fear, the tears, the pride and the debt
COVID-19 in Vietnam - the fear, the tears, the pride and the debt
VIETNAM & WORLDicon  06/07/2020 

I owe a debt to Vietnam. Maybe I can give something back. Maybe I can just be better.

Vietnamese students win Google’s technology challenge
Vietnamese students win Google’s technology challenge
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

A group of students from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT) have become one of 10 winning teams at Google’s Developer Student Clubs Solution Challenge 2020.

Fishermen in Binh Dinh fined for illegal fishing
Fishermen in Binh Dinh fined for illegal fishing
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

Two fishermen in the southern central province of Binh Dinh have been fined a total VND1.8 billion (USD78,260) for illegal fishing in foreign waters.

UK offers isolation exemption for 59 countries, including Vietnam
UK offers isolation exemption for 59 countries, including Vietnam
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The UK government has moved to exempt arriving passengers from undergoing a 14-day period of self-isolation from 59 countries and territories, including Vietnam, when entering Britain as of July 10.

Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia July 6
Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia July 6
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

Vietnam safe from COVID-19 over 81 straight days

Geographical indication given to Ly Son garlic
Geographical indication given to Ly Son garlic
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

The National Intellectual Property Office handed over a certificate to the People’s Committee of Ly Son island district recognising its specialty garlic with a geographical indication (GI) during a ceremony on July 5.

Dao Do women gaining equality at work and at home
Dao Do women gaining equality at work and at home
SOCIETYicon  06/07/2020 

In a typical Dao Do (Red Dao) family, daughters are named May. 

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN