–Tina Hesman Saey
The drug might save one of every eight people on ventilators and one of 25 on oxygen.
Given as intravenous injection, the steroid dexamethasone reduced the number of deaths among COVID-19 patients on ventilators, scientists say in a news release.
The low-cost steroid may save the lives of some people who are on ventilators or supplemental oxygen because of COVID-19, preliminary data from a large clinical trial suggest.
Dexamethasone, a steroid in use for decades, reduced deaths of COVID-19 patients on ventilators by about a third compared with standard care, researchers reported in a news release June 16. Deaths of COVID-19 patients on supplemental oxygen were reduced by about 20 percent. Researchers found no benefit for hospitalized patients who didn’t need extra oxygen.
If the results hold up to scrutiny once scientists have a chance to review the full data, the drug would be the first to reduce the risk of death from the disease. For many patients who wind up in the hospital with COVID-19, “question one is, ‘Will I survive?’ and question two is ‘How long will I have to stay in hospital?’ This is the first drug that says, yes, we can increase your chances of survival,” says Martin Landray, a cardiologist at the University of Oxford. Another drug, remdesivir, has been shown to shorten recovery time for seriously ill patients (SN: 5/13/20).
The new finding was based on outcomes of 2,104 patients taking 6 milligrams of dexamethasone once a day for 10 days either as a tablet or by intravenous injection and 4,321 people not taking the drug. The study was stopped early once a steering committee felt enough patients had been enrolled in this segment of the study to determine whether the drug worked or not. Landray and colleagues discovered that taking dexamethasone could prevent one death for every eight patients on ventilation, and one death for every 25 patients needing extra oxygen.
“It’s not a fix. It’s not a cure. It’s not a miracle, but it is really, really useful,” Landray says. He expects doctors around the world will embrace the therapy. He says that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service may soon declare dexamethasone the standard treatment for people on ventilators because of COVID-19.
“These are potentially very exciting data,” says Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has helped write COVID-19 treatment guidelines for the U.S. National Institutes of Health and for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, but says he will wait until he sees the full report to decide whether the results warrant changing treatment of severely ill patients. “Right now we have very limited information, but if it’s borne out it could be really exciting.”
Although the results are important for treating the sickest patients with COVID-19, those patients represent only about 5 percent of people diagnosed with the coronavirus, Gandhi says. “It’s not steroids for all.”
For the majority of patients, the drug probably would not do any good and may even do harm. Dexamethasone and other steroids dampen the immune system’s response to invading organisms, and have been shown to make viral infections, such as influenza and SARS worse. Researchers thought that if steroids worsened SARS, it might do the same for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Treatment guidelines suggest doctors not use steroids against the novel coronavirus.
The way the results were released has some scientists worried that they may not hold up. “We’ve all seen preprints and press releases about other potential therapies that have not borne out to be true,” says Brian Garibaldi, director of the biocontainment unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Landray says he understands the criticism, but felt it was important to “get the results out into the public domain so that they’re no longer my little secrets, the world at large can see them and make their decisions.”
He and colleagues are writing a scientific paper with more details, but it will take time for the study to be reviewed and published. Meanwhile, he says, “the drug is already sitting in hospitals now — it doesn’t cost much money and the benefits are really obvious — and it can be used worldwide and you’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Garibaldi says he’s hopeful that the results will hold up. “Certainly to have something that would reduce mortality would be a game changer,” he says, but doctors are unlikely to alter treatments for their patients based on the limited data presented. “When I go into the ICU next week, I don’t plan on using dexamethasone unless I can see the data and we can discuss it as a critical care community.
The Miss Universe-Greatest Celebration of Women
-SOFIE ZERUTO The Miss Universe Organization is a global, inclusive of organizations that celebrates all cultures, backgrounds and religions. It creates and provide a safe space for women to share their stories and drive impact personally, professionally, and philanthropically. The women who participate in this…
All Africa Music Awards; Categories and Regions
-MUSIC IN AFRICA All Africa Music Awards (also referred to as AFRIMA) is an annual awards event. The awards event was established by the International Committee AFRIMA, in collaboration with the African Union (AU) to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting…
African Acts And The Grammy Award
-FUMILAYO KANMODI African music is now getting much-deserved recognition, and talented stars have been rewarded for their hard work. One award many covet has always been the Grammy Award, and we have had African acts that have received the award. In our little way of…
Nigeria’s Former Jonathan Tells African Leaders To Put Humanity First
Joke Falaju, Abuja Bags African Heritage awardFormer President Goodluck Jonathan has urged African leaders privilege to hold public offices to become servants of the people, and not turn themselves into the “bosses of the people”.Jonathan stated this while receiving the African Democracy and Peace Icon…
The Risk And Reward Of ChatGPT In Cybersecurity
Juan is an experienced CTO with a demonstrated history of working in the computer and network security industry. He is an information technology professional skilled in SAP and Oracle applications, computer forensics, vulnerabilities research, IPS/IDS and information security. Unless you’ve been on a retreat in…
Explained – History Of Money From Fiat To Crypto
What is money? Money as a concept has been a cornerstone of human civilization and economic development. To start with the latter, money is a method of storing value and worth, and it also functions as a medium of exchange that allows individuals to exchange…
Studies Show That Nigerian Crypto Foreign Investment Is At A Record Low
Foreign direct investment in Nigeria fell by 33% last year due to a severe shortage of dollars, which discouraged crypto companies from expanding into the country. The largest economy in Africa has a foreign investment problem despite exponential growth in crypto adoption. The National Bureau…
Growing The Bitcoin Development Ecosystem In Africa
– Abubakar Nur Khalil | Bitcoin Magazine Bitcoin development in Africa, with a proper regulatory environment, could equally accelerate the continent and the technology. In this piece, we’ll be analyzing the current state of the Bitcoin developer ecosystem in Africa, ways to improve it and…