dexamethasone-reduces-deaths-from-covid-19

Context: A team of researchers at U.K found out that Drug Dexamethasone could be administered to Covid 19 patients.

About the study:

  • The study enrolled more than 11,000 patients in the U.K., Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • They were given either standard of care or that plus one of several treatments: 
    • the HIV combo drug lopinavir-ritonavir, 
    • the antibiotic azithromycin; 
    • the steroid dexamethasone, 
    • the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab, or 
    • plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 that contains antibodies to fight the virus
  • The same study that earlier this month showed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus. 

Findings of Research:

  • Patients who were given the drug, either orally or through vaccines showed a higher probability of recovery.
  • It reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen. 
  • It did not appear to help less ill patients.

About Dexamethasone:

  • It is a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation. 
  • The steroid medicine has been available as a generic for decades. 
  • It is used to treat a range of diseases including rheumatism, asthma, allergies and even to help cancer patients better handle the nausea triggered by chemotherapy.  
  • In the field of sport
    • The low-cost, anti-inflammatory steroid is well known in the world of sport. Dexamethasone has been used for years by sportspersons to hasten their rehabilitation from injuries and recover from infections.
    • However, it is not permitted during competition because it helps all the infection and inflammation to subside and gives you a feeling of well-being.
    • The drug is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) list of prohibited substances, however athletes can use the same before the competition.
      • In other words if the substance is detected prior to a competition, it will not be considered a doping offence.
  • Efficacy against Coronavirus:
    • The drug helps stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight off coronavirus.
    • Steroid drugs reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in Covid-19 patients as the immune system overreacts to fight the infection. 
      • The overreaction of the immune systems, which triggers what is known as a “cytokine storm syndrome” (CSS).
    • This overreaction can prove fatal, so doctors have been testing steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs in such patients.

Significance:

  • It could help in bringing down Covid mortality rates as survival benefit is large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment.
  • It could augment accessibility to treatment as the drug is inexpensive and can be imported in sufficient quantities by poor countries as well. 

World Anti-Doping Agency:

  •  It is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee based in Canada to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sports. 
  • It’s key activities include scientific research, education, and development of anti-doping capacities.
  • It also monitors the World Anti-Doping Code, whose provisions are enforced by the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. 
  • The aims of the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention and the United States Anti-Doping Agency are also closely aligned with those of WADA.

Source:

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-dexamethasone-reduces-deaths-from-covid-19-say-oxford-researchers/article31843586.ece

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/dexamethasone-a-badminton-legend-a-football-star-latest-covid-drug-whats-common-6462382/

Image Source: The hindu