A cheap and widely available drug called dexamethasone has become the first life-saving treatment in the Covid-19 pandemic. UK scientists say the low-dose steroid treatment is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus and raising hopes for the survival of thousands of the most seriously ill.
Dexamethasone is cheap, available from any pharmacy, and easily obtainable anywhere in the world. It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
The drug is part of the world's biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus. Because it is cheap, it could also be of huge benefit in poorer countries struggling with high numbers of Covid-19 patients.
The preliminary results did not observe any notable side effects or adverse reactions. But dexamethasone is known to cause a number of mild to moderate side effects, including vomiting, heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure, muscle weakness and insomnia.
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