After dexamethasone was recently considered by Oxford University researchers to be a “life-saving” drug treatment for COVID-19, some experts wanted to see additional data.
The preliminary results of the study were announced on June 16, but were not released until Monday in the medRxiv repository.
They have not been peer reviewed yet.
The researchers said the RECOVERY trial “provides clear evidence” that treatment with dexamethasone, which is also a steroid, 6 mg once daily for 10 days, was found to reduce deaths in patients receiving oxygen by one-fifth and those who get ventilation in one. -third.
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Based on these results, the drug would prevent the deaths of about eight ventilator patients, and about 25 patients who need oxygen, the researchers wrote. No benefits were observed in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who do not require oxygen.
“Dexamethasone provides an effective treatment for the sickest patients with COVID-19, and given its low cost, well-understood safety profile, and wide availability, it is one that can be used worldwide,” the researchers wrote.
The study, known as the RECOVERY trial, enrolled 11,320 patients in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some 2,104 patients were randomized to obtain the medication, while 4,321 other patients received usual care.
The mean age of the study participants was 66.1 years, and more than half of the patients had at least one significant comorbidity.
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About 15 per cent of all patients hospitalized in the UK with COVID-19 were enrolled in the trial.
Without reliable evidence from large-scale randomized clinical trials, the researchers noted much uncertainty about the effectiveness of corticosteroids in COVID-19. However, corticosteroids have been widely used in syndromes closely related to COVID-19, including SARS, MERS, severe influenza, and community-acquired pneumonia, they wrote.
“The beneficial effect of corticosteroids in severe respiratory viral infections is likely to depend on using the right dose, at the right time, in the right patient,” the study authors wrote.
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Before RECOVERY, many COVID-19 treatment guidelines stated that corticosteroids were “contraindicated” or “not recommended,” although corticosteroids are recommended in China for severe cases, the study authors noted.
The trial was conducted at 176 National Health Service (NHS) hospital organizations in the UK. Funding for the study was provided by the UK government, as well as by private donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.