It has been suggested that the use of dexamethasone to treat Covid-19 patients may have saved 650,000 lives around the world. Scientists from the University of Oxford were the first to suggest this treatment for Covid-19. In June 2020 their large clinical trial, Recovery, found that dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid, could reduce deaths from Covid-19 by a third for patients on ventilators, and by almost a fifth for those on oxygen.
Furthermore, dexamethasone, combined with the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab (RoActemra – commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis), was found to reduce the risk of death in patients, hospitalised with Covid-19, by 4%, and in those who required oxygen, by 14%. This treatment also reduced the time patients spent in hospital by five days, thereby improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators.
Colchicine, a drug normally used to treat and prevent inflammatory conditions, which is a feature of some Covid-19 infections, has been found to have the
potential to significantly reduce hospital stays among Covid-19 patients and the need for extra oxygen.
The research was carried out between April and August last year when patients admitted to hospital with moderate to severe Covid-19 were randomly assigned to receive different levels of colchicine. The results were based on only 72 patients, but for those patients treated with additional colchicine, the average length of time they needed oxygen therapy was reduced from 6.5 days to four days. The average length of hospital stay was reduced from nine days to seven days.