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Steroid Dexamethasone approved as Covid-19 treatment in UK

On Tuesday, an Oxford University trial confirmed positive results of clinical trials for the dexamethasone drug, which showed that the mortality rate was reduced by about one third for patients on ventilator and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: June 17, 2020 7:41:58 pm
A pharmacist displays a box of Dexamethasone at the Erasme Hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, June 16, 2020. REUTERS

The United Kingdom government Wednesday authorised the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) to use steroid dexamethasone, which was hailed by scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a “major breakthrough” in Covid-19 treatment, PTI reported.

On Tuesday, an Oxford University trial confirmed positive results of clinical trials for the dexamethasone drug, which showed that the mortality rate was reduced by about one third for patients on ventilator and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.

Britain’s Health Department said the cheap and widely available anti-inflammatory steroid has been immediately approved to treat all hospitalised Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock divulged the details of usage of the drug and said the standard treatment for Covid-19 patients will now include dexamethasone. “This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes,” he said.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the government-funded trial as the “biggest breakthrough”. “I am proud of these British scientists, backed by UK government funding, who have led the first, robust clinical trial anywhere in the world to find a coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death,” he said.

After Britain’s discovery, the WHO too welcomed the initial trial results of dexamethasone and said it would move to update the Covid-19 guidelines accordingly.

The trial formed part of the 2.1-million pounds Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 therapy (RECOVERY) trial, backed by the UK government to explore innovative medicines in the fight against the novel coronavirus. With over 177,000 patients enrolled, it is described as the largest randomised clinical trial anywhere in the world and will continue to trial other medicines, such as azithromycin and lopinavir-ritonavir.

“The RECOVERY trial is an outstanding example of the UK leading the world with an impressive study capable of delivering robust answers to critical questions. Although these data have not yet been peer-reviewed,” said UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.

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