DEXAMETHASONE was the first treatment shown to improve survival against Covid-19 — and was hailed the “biggest breakthrough yet”.
The potentially life-saving drug that costs as little as £5 and can only be given to patients with severe coronavirus.
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What is dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a widely-used steroid drug which works to reduce inflammation.
The cheap medicine has been shown in studies to improve survival for patients hospitalised with critical Covid-19 who need extra oxygen.
In use since the early 1960s, medics prescribe it to treat a range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
The drug is also used in end-of-life care and can work to prevent the immune system from destroying blood platelets in people with blood disorders.
Those with a brain tumour may also be prescribed dexamethasone to reduce swelling.
A course of the drug is around £5.
It has been approved to treat all UK and US Covid-19 patients who have been admitted to hospital and are on ventilators or oxygen.
Dr Nick Cammack, from the Wellcome Trust, said: “This is a major breakthrough – dexamethasone is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for Covid-19.”
How does it help people with coronavirus?
Many of the sickest Covid victims see their immune system go into overdrive, leading to damaging inflammation.
Medics think low-dose dexamethasone helps protect the lungs and reduce the severity of disease.
But it should NOT be given in mild cases since it can limit the body’s own ability to combat the virus, according to guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America.
Is Donald Trump being treated with dexamethasone?
On Sunday, October 4, it was confirmed Donald Trump was being treated with dexamethasone.
Dr Brian Garibaldi, from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been receiving treatment since Friday, said Trump was given the drug in response to “transient low oxygen levels”.
He said: “He received his first dose of that yesterday and our plan is to continue that for the time being.”
Trump is also being given an experimental treatment, Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, as well as zinc, Vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin, his doctors have said.
Trump released a four-minute video on Saturday, October 4, in which he said the “real test” of his condition will come over the next few days.