A very inexpensive and widely available existing drug might be the miracle the world needs to help battle the coronavirus. A major breakthrough in the U.K. has led experts to believe dexamethasone, a low dose steroid, may be the key to fighting COVID-19.
The drug has been part of a global clinical trial in the race for a coronavirus cure and treatment.
In a trial, led by a team from Oxford University, around 2,000 hospital patients were given dexamethasone. They were compared with more than 4,000 who did not receive the drug.
The drug cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and for those on oxygen, it cut the risk of death by a fifth, the BBC reported. Experts believe the drug could also be a way to help those in poorer countries as they try and deal with the pandemic.
"This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough," Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby told BBC.
However, the drug does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus and those who don't need help with their breathing.
The discovery comes as the CDC announced that in the U.S., hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths 12 times higher among those with reported underlying conditions compared with those with none reported. Of those underlying conditions, the most common are heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.
There are currently 2.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with over 118,000 deaths.
There are currently 7.8 million cases globally with over 432,000 deaths. Researchers tell BBC that had dexamethasone been used to treat patients in Great Britain at the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved.