London / A cheap and easily accessible drug worldwide called Dexamethasone can help save the lives of patients who are seriously ill with the coronavirus, according to a study by the University of Oxford released on Tuesday.
The research team believes that low-dose steroid treatment represents a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19, by reducing the risk of death in one third of those patients who are hooked up to ventilators.
As for those who need an oxygen approach to the disease, the said drug reduces deaths by a fifth, according to these findings.
This medicine is one of those being used in the largest clinical trial in the world, where it is experimenting with existing treatments for other diseases in order to see if they also work to fight the coronavirus.
According to the researchers’ estimates, if that drug had been available in this country since the beginning of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved.
Furthermore, due to its low cost, they consider that it could be very beneficial in poor countries that face large numbers of COVID-19 patients.
Approximately 19 out of 20 patients who become infected with coronavirus improve without having to be hospitalized, the study recalls.
Of those to be admitted to a medical facility, most also experience improvement, although some may require oxygen or mechanical ventilation. The latter, according to the study, are considered to be high-risk patients for whom Dexamethasone appears to help.
That drug is already used to reduce inflation for other medical conditions, and it appears to help stop some of the damage that occurs when the immune system becomes over-active while trying to fight the coronavirus.
Conducting the clinical trial
About 2,000 hospital patients participated in this clinical trial, to whom the medicine was administered and its evolution was compared with another 4,000 patients who were not prescribed.
For those patients connected to mechanical ventilators, Dexamethasone reduced the risk of death from 40 to 28%, while in the case of patients who required oxygen, the treatment reduced the risk of death from 25 to 20%. .
“This is the only drug to date that has been shown to reduce mortality and reduce it significantly. It is a breakthrough, ”said study lead investigator Peter Horby.
For Martin Landray, another scientist involved, the findings suggest that out of every eight treated patients who require mechanical ventilator-assisted breathing, a life could be saved.
As for those who need an oxygen approach, one life is saved in every 20-25, he added.
“There is a clear benefit. The treatment consists of ten days of Dexamethasone and costs about 5 pounds (5.5 euros / $ 6.2) per patient. So it essentially costs £ 35 (€ 38 / $ 43) to save a life. It is a drug that is available all over the globe, “said Landray.
According to the experiment, Dexamethasone does not seem to help people who have mild symptoms of coronavirus – those who do not need assistance to breathe.
The trial has been running since last March and in these tests the product used to treat Malaria, hydroxychloroquine, has also been included, which has now been discarded in fear of an increase in the number of deaths and coronary problems.
Another called Remdesivir, an antiviral treatment that seems to shorten the recovery period in patients with COVID-19, is now available from the public health service in this country. (June 17, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)
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