The widely available steroid drug dexamethasone may be key in helping to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen, according to researchers in the United Kingdom.
Their findings are preliminary, still being compiled and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal – but some not involved with the study called the results a breakthrough.
The two lead investigators of the Recovery Trial, a large UK-based trial investigating potential Covid-19 treatments, announced to reporters in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation in the trial.
“That’s a highly statistically significant result,” Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of the trial and a professor at the University of Oxford, said on Tuesday.
“This is a completely compelling result. If one looks at the patients who did not require ventilators but were on oxygen, there was also a significant risk reduction of about one-fifth,” Landray said. “However, we didn’t see any benefit in those patients who were in hospital, had Covid, but whose lungs were working sufficiently well – they were not taking either oxygen or on ventilators.”
Landray added that “there are outstanding questions” and people treating Covid-19 at home should not be taking dexamethasone on the back of these results.
“We have not studied patients in the community,” Landray said. “We show no effect in the pati