Dexamethasone a massive boost for COVID-19 fight: UK envoy

Aziz Idris

Thousands of lives will be saved in the United Kingdom (UK) now that the government has authorised the National Health Service (NHS) to use the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to significantly reduce the risk of death in hospitalised patients with respiratory complications.

According to a press statement from the British High Commission in Brunei Darussalam, anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone has been proven to reduce the risk of death significantly in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35 per cent and patients on oxygen by 20 per cent, while reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17 per cent.

Funded by the UK government, via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Oxford University UK RECOVERY trial is the first clinical trial in the world to show a treatment that provided significant impact in reducing mortality.

The British government has taken steps to secure supplies of dexamethasone, buying additional stocks ahead of time in the event of a positive trial outcome.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in a statement, said, “I’m absolutely delighted that today, we can announce the world’s first successful clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19. This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.”

The drug has also been added to British parallel export list, which bans companies from buying medicines meant for UK patients and selling them for a high price in another country.

Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has supported British research with millions of pounds of funding for clinical trials into the most promising and innovative medicines in the fight against the coronavirus, including a GBP2.1 million for the RECOVERY trial.