Full dexamethasone study released, shows fewer deaths for ventilated COVID-19 patients

A full study testing dexamethasone — a cheap, widely available steroid — as a treatment for COVID-19 found that the drug reduced mortality rates among patients on ventilators or who were receiving oxygen, but not in patients receiving no respiratory support. 

The study was released by the RECOVERY group, in partnership with the University of Oxford in England. The groups put out a news release in June touting the results of the clinical trial, but full results of the trial weren't published until July 17. 

Some scientists have called dexamethasone a major breakthrough in COVID-19 treatment, as it is the first drug that has been shown to improve survival rates. Gilead's remdesivir shortened recovery time, but didn't reduce mortality rates. 

The study, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, indicated a lower death rate among 2,104 patients treated with dexamethasone compared to 4,321 patients receiving usual care over a 28-day period. 

The trial showed very little impact on patients who weren't on respiratory support. 

The FDA recently updated its treatment guidelines for dexamethasone, saying it can be used for up to 10 days on patients who require supplemental oxygen.


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