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Home >News >India >Dexamethasone trials show positive results as cases, death toll surge in India

As the number of covid-19 cases touched 355052 on Wednesday and toll crossing 12000 in India, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the initial clinical trial results from University of Oxford, the United Kingdom (UK) that showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with covid-19.

For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.

The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with covid-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease. “This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Based on these results, 1 death would be prevented by treatment of around 8 ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone. Given the public health importance of these results, the researchers are now working to publish the full details as soon as possible, the Oxford University has said. Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, and one of the Chief Investigators for the trial, said, “The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.’

Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers. 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.

“The researchers shared initial insights about the results of the trial with WHO, and we are looking forward to the full data analysis in the coming days," the WHO said. The WHO said that it will coordinate a meta-analysis to increase our overall understanding of this intervention. WHO clinical guidance will be updated to reflect how and when the drug should be used in covid-19, the apex biomedical research body said.

The development builds off the WHO Research & Development Blueprint meeting, which took place in Geneva in mid-February to accelerate health technologies for covid-19, where further research into the use of steroids was highlighted as a priority. The findings reinforce the importance of large randomized control trials that produce actionable evidence. “WHO will continue to work together with all partners to further develop lifesaving therapeutics and vaccines to tackle COVID-19 including under the umbrella of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator," the WHO said.

Meanwhile, Indian Doctors have been successfully using methylprednisolone in handling the covid-19 pandemic, as in moderate to severe disease. It reduces its overall mortality and is a more essential part of the treatment regimen. Also, it reduces the severity of symptoms, doctors claimed.

“Steroids are effective medicines in dealing with COVID 19 infection and they reduce the complications and severity in sick patients, Dexamethasone will be a good choice as is supported by a large trial and is a cost-effective drug," said Dr Vikramjeet Singh, internal medicine specialist at Aakash healthcare.

“Dexamethasone is of the same group as methylprednisone, hence the effects will be similar but DEXA has been studied in a large trial and its cost-effective. Diabetic patients have a disarrangement if blood sugar values with steroids. But it is deemed necessary to use in covid-19 infection as it is a life-saving drug," he said.

The recovery rate in India rose to 52.80%. During the last 24 hours, 6922 covid-19 patients were cured. A total of1,86,934 patients, so far, have been cured of the highly infectious disease. Currently, 1,55,227 active cases are under medical supervision, the union health ministry said.

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