A team of medical researchers from Oxford University says dexamethasone, a widely available steroid, can help high-risk COVID-19 patients recover fast.
Dexamethasone is known and widely-used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
The experts, while announcing the result of the drug trial, on Tuesday, said it reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill COVID-19 patients.
The dug has been described as a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly disease.
They stated that the drug could have saved about 5,000 lives of the patients it was administered on from inception of the outbreak in Britain.
The experts noted that dexamethasone was administered on about 2,000 patients and were compared with more than 4,000 who did not receive the drug.
Peter Horby, chief investigator, said the drug has proven to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients.
“This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough,” he said.
“The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
Martin Landry, the lead researcher, said the drug costs £5 per patient and its globally available.
He added that patients with mild symptoms of the virus don’t need the drug.
“There is a clear, clear benefit. The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 per patient,” Landry said.
“So essentially it costs £35 to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available.”