This steroid reduces mortality by one third in the most severely ill patients according to new results. British health services are already using it.

Despite a return to almost normal after deconfinements in many countries, such as in France, the Covid-19 pandemic is not over. Some countries, like China, already fear a second wave in the face of the appearance of new cases. And for the moment, no vaccine or treatment is marketed. Even if we talk a lot about chlroroquine, controversial treatment defended in particular by Pr Didier Raoult, other drugs are promising. This is the case with dexamethasone, according to the first results of the large clinical trial Recovery published on Tuesday. L’Express takes stock.  

What is dexamethasone?

First thing, this treatment is already known. It is indeed a drug from the steroid family. It is used in many indications for its powerful anti-inflammatory effect. It is also prescribed for cancer patients, in chemotherapy. 

According to Vidal , a reference guide for health professionals, synthetic corticosteroids – including dexamethasone – “decrease (at high doses) the immune response. Their metabolic and sodium retention effect is less than that of hydrocortisone (… ) In ophthalmology, it has been shown that dexamethasone, a potent corticosteroid, can suppress inflammation by inhibiting edema, fibrin deposition, capillary leakage and phagocytic migration of the inflammatory response. ” 

first drug which is observed to improve survival in the case of Covid-19″, said in a statement the leaders of the British trial Recovery. According to the first results of the large clinical trial – qualified this Tuesday as a “major advance” – dexamethasone, reduces by a third the mortality in patients most seriously affected by Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also welcomed a “scientific breakthrough”.

According to those responsible for the trial, “for each group of eight patients placed on artificial ventilation, one death could be avoided”. “This is a major step forward in the quest for new ways to treat Covid patients,” said Prof. Stephen Powis, medical director of the NHS, the British public health service, in another statement. 

Yes, this is the advantage of this treatment. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, already commercially available and can be used immediately to save lives around the world,” said Prof Peter Horby. The British health services (NHS) will also use it as of Tuesday to treat the disease, announced Minister of Health Matt Hancock. 

“We are working with the NHS to include dexamethasone as part of its standard treatment for Covid-19 starting this afternoon,” said Matt Hancock in a video posted on his Twitter account. He also said that the United Kingdom had 200,000 ready-to-use treatments stored since March.