COVID-19 Breakthrough with Mountain Sickness Drug

COVID-19 Mountain
Photo: nature.com

Dexamethasone, the steroid commonly used to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS), has been hailed the “biggest breakthrough yet” by Boris Johnson in the fight against coronavirus.

The RECOVERY trial was launched in March and is one of the world’s biggest randomized, controlled drug trials for the treatment of COVID-19. The UK study found that dexamethasone reduced deaths of COVID patients on ventilators by approximately a third. It is the first drug shown to reduce the death rate. “It’s a startling result, and will have a massive global impact,” said Kenneth Vallie, an intensive care physician at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the RECOVERY steering committee.

The study looked at more than 11,500 coronavirus patients in 175 different hospitals, who volunteered for a variety of experimental treatments. About 2,100 participants received a low dose of dexamethasone (six milligrams per day) for 10 days, and their results were compared to 4,321 people receiving standard care for the virus.

“What we saw was really quite remarkable,” said Peter Horby of Oxford University, who led the trial. The drug reduced death rates by around 35% for patients on ventilators and by about 20% for those who required oxygen. The drug has not had an impact on those with mild cases of COVID-19 (i.e. not receiving oxygen). 

Guidelines from the World Health Organization cautioned against treating coronavirus with steroids, since they suppress the immune system, but the RECOVERY study suggested that the benefits of the treatment outweigh potential harm. In fact, they found no adverse effects. “This treatment can be given to pretty much anyone,” said Hornby. 

The trial data is not yet published, so there is still some caution, but senior medics hail this as a huge turning point, and the treatment is now being recommended by the UK’s National Health Service. Based on these results, one death could be prevented in eight ventilated patients, or one in around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone. Had doctors in the UK prescribed dexamethasone for the sickest COVID-19 patients earlier, up to 5,000 deaths could have been prevented, say researchers.

Weeks earlier, when some clinicians noted that COVID-19 pneumonia had similarities to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), both the British Medical Journal and the European Respiratory Journal questioned that connection. The European Respiratory Journal stated that using medications for altitude sickness to treat COVID-19 was unlikely to help and might even be potentially dangerous, but this was before the RECOVERY trial results.

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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Damien François
Damien François
1 year ago

I read about 2 months ago that some doctors had pointed at the similiraties between acute mountain sickness and Covid-19. So this makes sense. It also is comforting to know that some existing and cheap (think of NEPAL!!!!!!!) drugs are working and the BillGates3 (666 in ASCHII!) and WHO-Rockefeller vaccines are nothing but a way to have us all chipped liquidly! In December, M.I.T. announced “Storing medical information below the skin’s surface”
https://news.mit.edu/2019/storing-vaccine-history-skin-1218
A month before, Gates had given M.I.T. half a million for lobbying…
https://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2019/11/INV-003700
Any questions?

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Damien François
Damien François
1 year ago

I meant ASCII (code)…

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Jackson Mohr
11 months ago

Thank,s For Sharing Great content. it helps me a lot.

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