According to an analysis of seven international trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), critically ill COVID-19 patients with corticosteroid drugs reduces the risk of death by 20 percent regardless of which steroid was used. It is believed the drug costs only £5.
The researchers said in a statement: “The is equivalent to around 68 percent of (the sickest COVID-19) patients surviving after treatment with corticosteroids, compared to around 60 percent surviving in the absence of corticosteroids.”
Following the research, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said these drugs should only be used in the treatment of the sickest patients with the deadly virus.
But the health agency urged countries to maintain sufficient stocks of the drug, “while not maintain g excessive stocks which could deny other countries access”.
Back in June, the UK’s recovery trial found the drug – a steroid called dexamethasone – could save lives of people with severe COVID.
The latest study brings together all clinical trials involving steroids on patients around the world.
The study confirmed dexamethasone worked and another steroid, hydrocortisone, is also effective in fighting against the virus.
Professor Anthony Gordon, from Imperial College London, said: “At the beginning of the year, at times it felt almost hopeless knowing that we had no specific treatments.
“It was a very worrying time, yet less than six months later we’ve found clear, reliable evidence in high quality clinical trials of how we can tackle this devastating disease.”
READ MORE: Coronavirus latest: Britons could have COVID-19 test once EVERY week
The BBC report the results on 1,703 critically ill patients found 40 percent died when given only standard treatment, while 32 percent died when given steroids.
Professor Martin Landray, from the University of Oxford, added: “At the point at which you reach for an oxygen cylinder for a patient with COVID, you probably should be reaching for the prescription for corticosteroids.
“These results are instantly useable; they are widely available, cheap, well-understood drugs that reduce mortality.”
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7.40am update: Matt Hancock defends coronavirus testing regime
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended the coronavirus testing regime despite people being directed to centres more than 100 miles away.
He told Sky News the issue was part of the reason why the Government was investing in trials of 20-minute Covid-19 tests.
Mr Hancock said: “At the moment the system works well. Of course there are operational challenges from time to time but it works well.
“And we’re finding a higher and higher proportion of people in the country who have coronavirus and getting them tests so they can be looked after.
“But absolutely we need to roll out more testing – we have done throughout this crisis and today’s another step in solving some of those problems with the existing technology.”