Scientists at the University of Oxford, England, announced on Tuesday (16) that they had found the first drug capable of reducing the incidence of deaths in patients with covid-19. It is dexamethasone, a cheap drug widely available on the market.
According to the professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Oxford, Martin Landray, one of the co-authors of the study, the substance reduced by 35% the number of deaths in people infected with the coronavirus who needed to wear respirators and by 20% in patients treated with oxygen. In less severe cases, there was no record of effectiveness.
Dexamethasone works to reduce inflammation caused by covid-19 in more severe cases, causing the immune system not to react as strongly against Sars-CoV-2, which can be fatal. “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality — and it has significantly reduced it,” Landray said.
Corticosteroid treatment lasts around 10 days and costs approximately 5 pounds (just over R$32, at the current price) per patient each day. The drug should start being administered immediately to UK inpatients.
Study data will still be published.
Despite the positive results, many experts remain cautious about using dexamethasone to treat covid-19, as data from the clinical trial have not yet been fully published or revised. What is known so far is that the authors compared the numbers of drug treatment in 2,104 patients with those of 4,321 people treated without the use of any experimental method.
While corticosteroids reduced deaths by more than a third in ventilated patients and by a fifth in those who used oxygen, the group that did not use the drug had 41% of those ventilated dead, a rate that reached 25% in those treated with oxygen alone.