Dexamethasone in Treating COVID-19
IntroductionIn the news, this Straight, No Chaser reviews new findings on the use of dexamethasone in treating COVID-19. Dexamethasone is a commonly used steroid that has sixty years of use behind it.
Findings on Dexamethasone
- Dexamethasone is a steroid. Steroids reduce inflammation. COVID-19 kills largely through inflammatory reactions caused by the infection. Thus, there is a theoretical basis by which steroids could be used in treating COVID-19.
- In a study of more than 6,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients, dexamethasone was found to cut deaths by up to one-third.
- It’s not for everyone. On the positive side, after a month, it had reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those needing supplemental oxygen. Unfortunately, it did not appear to help less ill patients.
- Dexamethasone has side effects. It inhibits the body’s immune response to the virus, which could be deadly in some patients, although not overall. Steroids, in general, may cause some severe side effects, such as new or worsening diabetes, as well as psychosis or emotional disturbance. These potential side effects must be weighed against the real life threat being faced in real time.
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