The University of Oxford has discovered the first drug to have a real, measurable impact on Covid-19 virus. Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including certain cancers and inflammatory disorders such as allergic reactions, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. It has been listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in multiple formulations, and is currently off-patent and affordably available in most countries.
Results of trials of Dexamethasone, released by the University of Oxford, have shown that it saves the lives of those seriously afflicted by Covid-19 virus, cutting death risks for critically ill patients on ventilators by one third and by a fifth for those on oxygen.
U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has described it the ‘biggest breakthrough yet’ in the fight against the coronavirus.
Experts in the U.K. have described these results as a groundbreaking development in the fight against the disease and the World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the initial clinical trial results of Oxford University which has data gathered from 2,104 hospitalised patients who received the steroid, and 4,321 patients who did not.
“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support. 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”, said Dr TedrosAdhanomGhebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
While some experts view the findings of the Oxford University with excitement, others are skeptical about it. Many doctors outside the U.K. have raised concerns over the certainty of Oxford’s claims due to the fact that the results were issued in a press release, as opposed to scientific journal articles, where before publication, other scientists would have taken an in-depth peer review of the findings.
However, the WHO has assured that initial insights about the drug were shared with them and that it will coordinate a meta-analysis to increase an overall understanding of this intervention.
The WHO has remained steadfast in its commitment to work with partners in the development of lifesaving therapeutics and vaccines to tackle COVID-19 and the speed at which researchers have progressed in finding effective treatments and developing a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus is more so, very remarkable.