A breakthrough has been discovered in one of the world’s biggest randomized, controlled trials for coronavirus treatment. Based in the United Kingdom, the RECOVERY trial enrolled a total of 2,100 participants who received an inexpensive and commonly used steroid, dexamethasone. The participants were compared to 4,300 people who received standard care. The cohorts showing the most benefit were critically ill patients on ventilators and those receiving oxygen therapy but were not on a ventilator. However, patients with mild cases showed no benefit.
The trial showed a reduction of deaths by about one-third of patients on ventilators secondary to coronavirus infection.
A fully functioning immune system is normally required to completely fight off the infection. Although steroids are typically known to suppress the immune system, the trial suggests that, at the doses tested, benefits of treatment may outweigh potential risks. Investigators suggest that dexamethasone can be given to “pretty much anyone” since the study did not find any noteworthy adverse events.
There is only one other drug that has shown benefit in COVID-19 patients, remdesivir. When compared to this, dexamethasone is more readily available, considerably less expensive, and extremely easier to administer to patients. This could be a game changer for the current pandemic.
Detailed findings of the study will be published as soon as possible.

By: Kelley Silva, PharmD Candidate 2022

Ledford, Heidi. “Coronavirus breakthrough: dexamethasone is first drug shown to save lives.” Nature, Springer Nature Limited, 16 June 2020,
For the full article, please visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01824-5

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