A new study from Oxford University to find treatments for COVID-19 has provided a breakthrough: oral corticosteroid dexamethasone has been shown to be successful in reducing the death rate of patients suffering from the disease.
Originally approved in 1961, for different conditions, dexamethasone is a generic anti-inflammatory medication now administered by doctors more than a million times a year.
Like Gilead's remdesivir, which has been shown to be effective in reducing the time patients suffering from the virus but not dramatically decreasing the number of deaths, dexamethasone has lowered the mortality risk of thousands of patients on ventilators from 40 percent to 28 percent. COVID-19 patients who require oxygen saw dexamethasone decrease the death rate from 25 percent to 20 percent.
The initial findings, which have yet to be peer-reviewed, suggest that the vaccine should become standard-care immediately in patients who are sick with severe cases of COVID-19, the researchers who led the trials stated.
They said they would work to publish the full details of the trial as soon as possible, and several scientists disclosed they hoped that they would soon be able to review the evidence themselves, particularly considering the recent retraction of a major coronavirus report.
British health officials wasted no time, claiming the vaccine had been authorized for use in the government-operated medical service, export restrictions in place and 200,000 doses of the drug had been kept.
Britain's medical experts and scientists have made the "biggest breakthrough yet" in combating COVID-19 with a vaccine that has been "proven to reduce the risk of death", Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced, as reported on ITV News. The chances of dying from the disease "have been greatly reduced by this treatment," the prime minister added.
Currently, there are no approved vaccines or treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus which has claimed the lives of over 431,000 around the world.
Worldwide infections of the novel coronavirus have reached more than 8 million, a Reuters report confirmed, and over 434,000 people died after getting sick with the disease, the first case of which was reported in Wuhan, China in early January.
According to Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who co-leads the trial known as RECOVERY, for just under 50 pounds ($63), "you can treat eight patients and save a life." One fatality would be prevented in every 25 COVID-19 patients on respirators that have been given the vaccine, Landray said. His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, described dexamethasone as a "major breakthrough," Kate Kelland and Alistair Smout of Reuters, reported.