‘Save lives worldwide’: a cheap and popular drug reduces mortality from COVID-19

Cheap and widely available drug could help save the lives of patients seriously ill coronavirus infection, the BBC reports.

'Спасет жизни во всем мире': дешевый и популярный препарат снижает смертность от COVID-19

Photo: Shutterstock

British experts say that low-dose hormonal treatment steroid drug dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus.

The drug — part of the world’s largest trials of existing treatments designed to determine whether they work in relation to coronavirus infection.

The drug reduced the risk of death by one-third for patients on the ventilator. For those who are on oxygen, it has reduced the number of deaths by one-fifth.

According to the researchers, if this drug is used to treat patients in the UK from the beginning of the pandemic, it would be possible to save up to 5000 lives.

And it can bring huge benefits in poorer countries with a large number of patients with COVID-19.

The Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson said that this is the real reason to celebrate the “great British scientific achievement,” adding: “We have taken steps to ensure adequate supplies even in the case of the second peak”.

The chief medical officer of England Professor Chris whitty said that this discovery will save lives around the world.

About 19 out of 20 patients with coronavirus recover without hospitalization. Of those who had been admitted to hospital, most also is recovering, but some may need oxygen or artificial ventilation of the lungs.

And these high-risk patients seems to help dexamethasone.

The drug is already used to reduce inflammation in several other States, including arthritis, asthma and some skin condition. It seems that it can also stop some of the damage that can occur when the body’s immune system starts to reboot, trying to deal with the coronavirus.

This over-reaction, the so-called cytokine storm, can be fatal.

In a study conducted by a team from Oxford University, about 2,000 patients received dexamethasone, but more than 4,000 — no. For patients on the ventilator, it reduces the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients in need of oxygen, it reduces the risk of death from 25% to 20%.

Chief investigator Professor Peter Horby said, “that is the only drug that reduces mortality considerably. This is a big breakthrough.”

Lead researcher Professor Martin Landry said, as the results show, it is possible to save:

  • 1 out of 8 patients on a ventilator;
  • 1 of 20-25 lives of those who receive oxygen.

“There is a clear, clear advantage, he said. — Treatment with dexamethasone is up to 10 days, and it costs about £ 5 ($6,28) on the patient. So in essence saving a life is worth £ 35 ($44). It is a drug that is available worldwide.”

According to Professor Landrea, when appropriate, to patients now should be given without delay. But people don’t have to go out and buy it to take home.

Dexamethasone, apparently, does not help people with more mild symptoms of mers who do not need assistance with breathing.

In trial testing, which is conducted in March, also considered the drug hydroxychloroquine, used for treatment of malaria, which was subsequently excluded because of concerns that it increases mortality and heart problems.

Meanwhile, note that the antivirus drug ramdevpir, apparently, reduces the recovery time of people with coronavirus.

Analysis Fergus Walsh, the BBC health

The first drug proven to reduce deaths from COVID-19 — this is not some new, expensive drug, and the old, cheap as chips steroid. This is what you need to celebrate, so patients worldwide can benefit immediately.

Dexamethasone is used from the beginning of 1960-ies for the treatment of a wide range of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Half of all patients with Covid who require mechanical ventilation do not survive, so the reduction of that risk by one third would have a huge impact.

The drug is administered intravenously in the intensive care unit and in the form of tablets for less critically ill patients. To date the only other drug that has been proven to benefit patients COVID-19 is ramdevpir that was used for the treatment of Ebola. It reduces the duration of symptoms of coronavirus from 15 days to 11. But the data were not sufficiently conclusive to show whether snizilis mortality.

Unlike dexamethasone, ramdevpir is a new drug with limited reserves, and the price is not yet announced.

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