(Umair Irfan/ Vox) —Scientists at Oxford University in the United Kingdom this week reported that a trial of the drug dexamethasone shows it may be the first treatment demonstrated to save the lives of Covid-19 patients.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid typically used to treat inflammation. It’s cheap, as little as $1 per dose. It’s also been around since the 1950s, is cleared for human use, and is available as a generic. That makes it an ideal option to treat severe cases of Covid-19, especially compared to more expensive, unproven drugs still in testing.
The research team reported that a 6-milligram daily dose of dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in Covid-19 patients on ventilators and reduced deaths by one-fifth for patients receiving just oxygen support.
“It’s a surprising result in a medication we have a lot of experience with,” said Jeremy Faust, an attending physician in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. “It took me by surprise.” (…)