Low cost drug reduces Coronavirus deaths of seriously ill Oxford University trials find

Dexamethasone

An inexpensive, off the shelf steroid drug has been shown to improve survival of those seriously ill with COVID-19, according to a trail led by the University of Oxford.

Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.

Based on these results, one death would be prevented by treatment of around eight ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone.

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the trial, said: “Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”

The RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) trial was established in March as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, including low-dose dexamethasone (a steroid treatment).

More than 11,500 patients were enrolled from more than 175 NHS hospitals in the UK.

Last week, after less than two months, recruitment to the dexamethasone arm was halted since, in the view of the trial Steering Committee, sufficient patients had been enrolled to establish whether or not the drug had a meaningful benefit.

A total of 2104 patients were randomised to receive dexamethasone 6 mg once per day (either by mouth or by intravenous injection) for ten days and were compared with 4321 patients randomised to usual care alone. Among the patients who received usual care alone, 28-day mortality was highest in those who required ventilation (41%), intermediate in those patients who required oxygen only (25%), and lowest among those who did not require any respiratory intervention (13%).

Given the public health importance of these results, the University of Oxford is now working to publish the full details as soon as possible.

Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, one of the Chief Investigators, said: ‘Since the appearance of COVID-19 six months ago, the search has been on for treatments that can improve survival, particularly in the sickest patients. These preliminary results from the RECOVERY trial are very clear – dexamethasone reduces the risk of death among patients with severe respiratory complications. COVID-19 is a global disease – it is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide.’