Low-cost steroid may be breakthrough in cutting coronavirus deaths, researchers say


A common steroid can help some coronavirus patients, scientists say.

James Martin/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Scientists at the UK’s University of Oxford said Tuesday they’ve found that a low-cost, common drug significantly reduced coronavirus-related deaths in a 6,000-patient trial. Dexamethasone, a steroid, cut down deaths in patients receiving ventilation by one-third, they said. In patients getting oxygen treatment, it reduced deaths by one-fifth.

The drug didn’t appear to help patients who aren’t receiving respiratory support for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Britain’s National Health Service will work the drug into its standard COVID-19 treatment starting Tuesday, according to UK health secretary Matt Hancock. The government has 200,000 doses available now, after stockpiling it for months.

“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,” Professor Peter Horby, one of the lead researchers, said in a release. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”

The potential breakthrough comes as more than 8 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, according to tracking numbers from Johns Hopkins University, and less than a week since US cases topped 2 million. As of Tuesday morning, more than 437,000 people have died globally, including over 116,000 in the US. 

A vaccine may not arrive until 2021.

If you’re concerned that you might have contracted the coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention¬†lists symptoms to help you decide whether to get a test.¬†

You may have coronavirus if you’re suffering from either of these two symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

You could also be infected if you have two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Here’s how to find a coronavirus testing site near you and how the disease can affect children.

A common steroid can help some coronavirus patients, scientists say.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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