Britain is to start giving seriously ill coronavirus patients a basic steroid treatment hailed as a “major breakthrough” Tuesday capable of reducing the global pandemic’s death toll.
An “extremely severe” cluster of cases in Beijing cast doubt over efforts to get the virus under control, but the news from Britain came as a boost after months of grim statistics.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available steroid dexamethasone to more than 2,000 severely ill Covid-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by 35%.
“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in Covid-19. This is an extremely welcome result,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said patients would start to receive the drug immediately.