Dexamethasone Proves to be the First Life-Saving Drug for Coronavirus

Dr. Hira Tanveer

3 min read

dexamethasone

With the COVID-19 pandemic nowhere even close to receding, even after months of hard work, the news of having a possible resolution has been welcomed by the entire international community. 

Prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, hailed Dexamethasone as the major breakthrough in the press briefing that elaborated on the research carried out by the team from Oxford University. In the trial, 2000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients were given Dexamethasone, and the results were compared to 4000 patients in the hospital who were not given the drug. 

The findings revealed that Dexamethasone cut the risk of death for the patients on ventilators by a third, whereas for those on oxygen, their chances of death were reduced by 1/5th

The response of the people 

This progress towards cutting life-loses due to COVID-19 by using Dexamethasone has had a mixed response from the people. Some are, of course, glad that humanity has at least one win against the disease. 

However, many are skeptical of the way information was relayed; a press brief to announce scientific news is frowned upon. Generally, such important discoveries are relayed via research papers, where other scientists review the information and give it a stamp of approval, making it acceptable to be taken up. 

Unfortunately, the news of Dexamethasone is not accompanied by a research paper, yet. However, to have a stance over the matter at hand, it is crucial to understand the rationale behind the use of the drug, and its pros and cons. 

What is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is essentially a steroid, which is a chemical substance that imitates the chemical hormones in the body. Steroids help to reduce inflammation in the body, which has serious consequences otherwise. 

How does Dexamethasone help treat the virus?


Inflammation one of the signs of the body’s immunity doing its job. However, sometimes, the immune system can go into overdrive and generate a hyper-immune response. This not just targets the pathogens and similar foreign bodies but destroys the cell of the body as well. 

Hence, the case of over-inflammation is rather serious and leads to complications of all sorts. Dexamethasone thus helps reduce inflammation in the body. In COVID-19 patients, severe inflammation of the respiratory tract was observed. This then caused grave damage to the airways and also led to other secondary complications as well. 

Moreover, inflammation has also proven to be lethal in the patients of COVID-19. The immune response generated in the patients led to cytokine storm – where the body cells get destroyed as well. This has been responsible for 28% of the coronavirus deaths. Furthermore, inflammation also leads to terminal multi-organ failure in the patients as well.

Therefore, reducing inflammation is one of the major ways to save the lives of the patients and is precisely what the drug is doing. 

Therefore, Dexamethasone for treating COVID-19 is a big breakthrough 

The drug was already being used in many places for treating the inflammation-induced complications in the patients. However, there was no conclusive evidence to legitimize its use in the treatment of coronavirus. 

Now that scientists from Oxford University have carried out successful clinical trials, Dexamethasone can be used by doctors caring for the patients. 

The trial has shown that Dexamethasone significantly reduces the risk of death amongst critically ill patients. For the patients that needed to be put on ventilators, the probability of dying was reduced from 40% to 28% by Dexamethasone. Moreover, the chances of death in the patients requiring oxygen were cut by 5%; the death probability was reduced from 25 to 20%. 

Benefits of Dexamethasone

A great thing about this steroid is that it is not something new. It has existed for over half a century and has been used in the treatment of inflammation-related ailments for quite some time now. Thus, the drug has substantial research available for its usage, side-effects, etc. which makes it safer to be used right away for the treatment. 

Moreover, the cost is of the drug is another aspect that works in its favor. A 10-day dosage costs merely £5, making it rather economical, especially when compared to the other costly alternatives like Remdesivir. 

For developing countries, the drug presents as a wonderful intervention as the resources are scarce, to begin with. As the drug has already been under consumption, it is available on the shelves, across the globe already. 

Also, there is flexibility in terms of drug consumption as well. it can be taken oral or intravenous, whatever is deemed suitable for the patients. However, it should only be monitored by doctors. 

Some things to understand about the findings

Whilst it is certainly a positive step towards battling the virus, however, it is not something radical; it is just the validation of the regimen already practiced in general. Moreover, it should not be confused with a treatment of the virus. 

Dexamethasone just targets a specific subset of the patients; only those patients requiring hospitals can benefit from it. Since 95% of the patients do not need hospital care, therefore, it is not relevant to them. Hence, it is important to hold the distinction between the cure and the lifesaving aspect of the drug. 

Furthermore, Dexamethasone just targets inflammation-induced complications, which are a result of the host body’s immune system producing a hyper response. There are other virus-related complications that cause diseases and death.

No matter how bad the situation, you should never take or advise a loved one to take dexamethasone without a doctor’s prescription. You can consult with top internal medicine specialists in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad via oladoc.com. You can also book an appointment by calling at 042-38900939.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Hira Tanveer - Author Dr. Hira Tanveer is an MBBS doctor and currently serving at CMH Lahore. Writing is her favorite hobby as she loves to share professional advice on trendy healthcare issues, general well-being, a healthy diet, and lifestyle.