Speaking at the NEOC COVID-19 press briefing held on June 17, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, stated that low-dose Dexamethasone has shown to decrease mortality rate in COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Laws said that COVID-19 continues to spread and since its appearance six months ago research has been done for treatments to improve survival. Research has also been done for vaccines to prevent this virus.
The Chief Medical Officer noted that Researchers in the United Kingdom are participating in one of the biggest randomised control trials, the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) Trial.
“In this trial they are looking and testing a range of potential treatments for COVID-19 including the use of low-dose Dexamethasone, which is a well-known steroid treatment which have been in use for treating other medical conditions,” said Dr. Laws. “So far 11,500 patients have been enrolled in this research study from over 175 hospitals located in the United Kingdom.”
She stated that the research work involves the testing of a number of treatment options including Lopinavir-Ritonavir, which is an anti-HIV combination drug, low-dose Dexamethasone, and Hydroxychloroquine, which was spoken much about in February and March in terms of its potential in treating patients with COVID-19. “However, based on the adverse outcomes, I think this is now thrown out the window,” she said in reference to Hydroxychloroquine.
Also, research is being done on Azithromycin, which is an antibiotic, and Tocilizumab, which is an anti-inflammatory treatment given by injection. Convalescent Plasma collected by donors who have recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies against the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
Dr. Laws stated that the RECOVERY Trial is a registered clinical trial with the Nuffield Department of Population Health in partnership with the Nuffield Department of Medicine. The trial is supported by a grant from the University of Oxford.
The trial involves thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, research administrators at over 175 hospitals across the entire United Kingdom, said Dr. Laws.
“So far, 2104 patients have been randomized to receive the low-dose Dexamethasone, which is about 6mg once per day via mouth or intravenous injection for ten days,” she said. “The results were compared with 4321 patients who were randomized to receive usual care alone.”
“It was found that the Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients, reduced deaths by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only. However, there were no benefits among those patients who did not require respiratory support. So far, the overall results show that Dexamethasone reduced the 28-day mortality rate by 17 percent,” said the Chief Medical Officer.
According to Peter Horby, Professor for Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, “Dexamethasone is the first drug to show improved survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcomed result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so Dexamethasone should now become standard care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
Dr. Laws said that “COVID-19 is a global disease and it is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated so far to reduce mortality is one that is easily accessible.”
Photo: CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, DR. HAZEL LAWS