Dexamethasone, front runner in fight against COVID-19

Lead investigators of the Recovery Trial based in the UK announced yesterday that Dexamethasone, a widely available corticosteroid, was found to reduce the risk of death amongst critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The trial investigating potential treatments for the COVID-19 virus found that Dexamethasone reduced the risk of death by a third for patients critically ill and on ventilation. Furthermore, for patients who did not require ventilation but needed oxygen the risk reduction was about one-fifth. The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.

“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This is great news and I congratulate the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough.”

In an interview with CapeTalk Professor Helmuth Reurter, Infectious diseases specialist and rheumatologist at Stellenbosch University, explained that Dexamethasone is not a new drug but has been around for a long time and is widely available in South Africa, and furthermore that it has already been used in local hospitals such as Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

“We are very excited about this and Tygerberg has been using low-dose dexamethasone in the package of care, so I think this is a horse that we believed in and this is a horse that has won the race for us.”