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“A ground-breaking development,” according to preliminary data from an ongoing trial.
Dexamethasone, the familiar glucocorticoid, reduced deaths in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with severe disease by one-third compared to those receiving usual care, according to topline interim results from the RECOVERY trial released early Tuesday.
Deaths in the dexamethasone arm were reduced by one-third (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.48-0.88, P=0.0003) among patients receiving mechanical ventilation, and by one-fifth (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.67-0.96, P=0.0021) among patients requiring oxygen versus patients receiving usual care, according to a statement from the study’s authors.
But dexamethasone showed no benefit among patients who did not require respiratory support.
“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19,” said RECOVERY trial chief investigator Peter Horby, MD, PhD, of University of Oxford, in the group’s statement. “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.”
Horby described dexamethasone as “inexpensive, on the shelf and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”