COVID-19 Breakthrough: 'Widely available drug' found to treat Coronavirus

Low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone can help fight against the deadly virus, UK researchers say.

In a major breakthrough, experts in the United Kingdom have claimed to have found a “cheap and widely available” drug that can help save the lives of hig-risk coronavirus patients, and say that it could greatly benefit poorer countries with high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The news comes as a great relief to the world as the worldwide tally of COVID-19 positive cases on Tuesday touched 8,148,164 and India recorded 344,527 total number of patients as per statistics.

A BBC news report quoted experts from the UK as saying that the low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone can help fight against the deadly virus. It says that the drug is a part of the world's biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus.

The trial is led by a team of experts from Oxford University and the recovery trial has been going on since March, involving around 2,000 hospital patients who were given dexamethasone and were compared with more than 4,000 who did not receive the drug, the reports said.

The researchers say that dexamethasone is already used to reduce inflamation in a wide range of conditions amd appears to help high-risk patients as it cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and a fifth for those on oxygen, according to reports.

Since the 1960s, dDexamethasone has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and asthma

"This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough," Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby was quoted as saying by BBC.

What is the duration of treatment?

The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone, the experts say.

"There is a clear, clear benefit. The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 per patient. So essentially it costs £35 to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available," BBC quoted lead researcher Prof Martin Landray as saying.

When appropriate, hospital patients should now be given it without delay, Prof Landray said.

Cautioning against buying it to take it home, Prof Landray said that Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus, who do not need help with their breathing.

Drug tested in the Recovery Trial included Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir

While malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine was seen as increasing fatalities and heart problems, Remdesivir, an antiviral treatment which has been used to traet Ebola, appeared to shorten recovery time for people with coronavirus from 15 to 11 days. However, Remdesivir is a new drug with limited supplies and a price is yet to be announced.

With the new finding of the Recovery Trial, dexamethasone, and old and cheap drug, is the first drug proven to cut deaths from Covid-19. The drug is given intravenously in intensive care, and in tablet form for less seriously ill patients, the researchers say.

First Published:June 16, 2020, 7 p.m.

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