England’s Chief Medical Officer has hailed a finding that steroid drug dexamethasone can save the lives of those severely ill with COVID-19 as the most important trial result so far.
“This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far,” Chris Whitty said on Twitter about the findings of the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY.
“Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug.
“Many thanks to those who took part and made it happen. It will save lives around the world.”
The trial, results of which were published today, showed that the drug can be effective against coronavirus symptoms, with researchers suggesting that dexamethasone could have saved between 4,000 and 5,000 lives in the UK.
The clinical trial gave 2,100 Covid-19 patients a low dose of dexamethasone, while a further 4,300 patients were given standard NHS care.
The results showed that a third fewer patients on ventilators died when given dexamethasone compared to those given standard NHS care.
Leading scientists running the RECOVERY trial say the £6 drug will now become the standard of care for all Covid-19 patients on oxygen in hospitals.
Chief investigator Peter Horby, of Oxford University, said: “This is the only drug that has so far been shown to decrease mortality, and it reduced it significantly. It is a major breakthrough.”
Investigators say that dexamethasone could be made available as cheap as cheap as 80p per dose in parts of the developing world such as India.
Dr Nick Cammack, COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Lead, Wellcome Trust, said: “This is a major breakthrough: dexamethasone is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for COVID-19.
“Potentially preventing 1 death in every 8 ventilated patients would be remarkable. Finding effective treatments like this will transform the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and economies across the world.
“While this study suggests dexamethasone only benefits severe cases, countless lives will be saved globally.”