Scientists at the University of Oxford are hopeful that a commonly available and low-cost steroid, dexamethasone, can reduce the chances of death in patient with a severe infection of COVID-19. According to their research, they say that the drug decreased deaths of ventilated patients by one-third and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth. It does this by lessening the inflammation caused by the person’s immune system becoming out of control. This helps to protect the tissues within the body. The researchers estimate that if the medication was used in Britain from the beginning of the pandemic, it could’ve prevented 5,000 deaths.
After the report was released, doctors in the United Kingdom started using dexamethasone on severely ill COVID-19 patients. However, in the US, medical experts to see the data and study before trying it since the information hasn’t been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal yet. This skepticism comes as the result of several studies being retracted after they were published in scientific literature. Despite the hesitation, experts are hopeful that this could be the breakthrough that many have been looking for. So far, it’s the only drug that has been shown to be effective at treating COVID-19. Researchers did say that they didn’t test it outside a hospital setting and it didn’t appear to help patients who weren’t having severe respiratory problems.
As the result of new data, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it was rescinding the emergency authorization it gave for two drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, they approved for treating COVID-19. The drugs are normally used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They were heavily endorsed by President Trump after a few small studies that were poorly controlled said that they might work against the virus. The officials at the FDA said that the new information proves that the medications aren’t effective at treating the disease and could cause harmful side effects, such as heart arrhythmias.
Some politicians feel that the organization should have never authorized the emergency use of the medications in the first place. By doing that, it gave false hope and put the lives of Americans at risk. In addition, the pronouncement and subsequent retraction damaged the agency’s reputation.