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Oxford scientists find cheap steroid cuts COVID-19 deaths

They have described the use of the drug, dexamethasone, as a "major breakthrough".

An Oxford study has found Dexamethasone reduced death rates by a third for patients on ventilators, and by a fifth for patients needing oxygen.

The results have been published from the Recovery trial which is assessing a number of different possible COVID-19 treatments.

It is thought the drug - which costs just £5 per dose -  could have saved between 4,000 to 5,000 lives if it had been used earlier in the pandemic.

Professor Martin Landray, from Nuffield Department of Population Health, who is co-leading the trial, said: "This is a result that shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost."

His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone - a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation - is "the only drug that's so far shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly".

The UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: "The speed at which researchers have progressed finding an effective treatment is truly remarkable. It shows the importance of doing high quality clinical trials and basing decisions on the results of those trials.'

England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has hailed it as 'a major milestone' for treating coronavirus. 

 The NHS is making the steroid available as a treatment for patients today. 



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