A commonly-used steroid reduced coronavirus deaths by a third, research has revealed.
Scientists claim to have found “a major breakthrough” in treating Covid-19 sufferers with Dexamethasone, which could have saved between 4,000 and 5,000 lives in the UK.
A third fewer patients on ventilators died when given dexamethasone compared to those given standard NHS care, reports MirrorOnline.
Experts running the RECOVERY trial say the £6 drug will now become the standard of care for all Covid-19 patients on oxygen in hospitals.
Chief investigator Peter Horby, of Oxford University, said: “This is the only drug that has so far been shown to decrease mortality, and it reduced it significantly.”
The clinical trial gave 2,100 Covid-19 a low dose of dexamethasone while a further 4,300 patients were given standard NHS care.
Among patients who received usual care alone, those on ventilation saw 41 per cent dead within 28 days. Where patients received oxygen but were not placed in ventilators – the mortality rate was 25 per cent.
It had no benefit in those not needing respiratory support.
The drug is thought to drastically reduce inflammation in the lungs that proves fatal in some patients and can be administered orally or by injection.
Deputy chief investigator Prof Martin Landray, of Oxford University, said: “It is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide.
“The results are sufficiently clear that we can announce the results today and people can be treated this evening. That’s a major, major step forward. This is globally applicable.”
Dr Nick Cammack, Covid-19 therapeutics accelerator lead, Wellcome Trust, said: “This is a major breakthrough: dexamethasone is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for Covid-19.
“While this study suggests dexamethasone only benefits severe cases, countless lives will be saved globally.”