Coronavirus: Dexaméthasone not for patients in early stages of the illness
Share article:
Share article:

Coronavirus: Dexaméthasone not for patients in early stages of the illness

© Belga

Dexamethasone, the first drug proven to have saved the lives of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, probably should not be given to people in the initial stages of the illness, when they do not need help to breathe, the final results of an extensive clinical test show.

Dexamethasone is the only medication, along with the antiviral remdesivir, that has proved to be effective against COVID-19 following rigorous clinical tests that compared their effects with those of other treatments. Remdesivir reduces hospitalisation time but not mortality. Other drugs, like hydrochloroquine, have failed to show any effect.

As a result, dexamethasone and remdesivir have been adopted in international therapeutic recommendations and their production has been stepped up. The low cost of dexamethasone, a corticoid (anti-inflammatory drug) that has been around for a long time now, should facilitate its use worldwide.

Recovery Clinical Trials in the United Kingdom had announced in a press release on 16 June that, compared to the standard treatments, dexamethasone reduced deaths by a third in patients on mechanical ventilation, and by a fifth in patients receiving oxygen without being attached to artificial respiratory machines.

The complete results of the clinical test, done on 15% of patients hospitalised for COVID-19 in Britain, were published on Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine. They confirm and expand on the results that had been announced in June.

The tests show that 29.3% of patients on ventilation to whom a daily dose of 6 mg of dexamethasone was administered intravenously died within 28 days, as against a death rate of 41% for patients of a comparable age receiving standard COVID care.

The reduction was less for people receiving oxygen in a non-invasive manner (23.3% versus 26.2%).

The results were best in people who had shown symptoms for seven days or more.

The data confirms that dexamethasone should not be administered to patients in the early stages of the illness, which seems logical since steroids reduce the body’s immune response. It is only when the illness progresses that hyperactivity of the immune system becomes apparent in the patient, causing severe inflammation in various organs, which is often the cause of death.

The Brussels Times

Latest news

Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...
Testing rules following high-risk contact eased for vaccinated people
The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person ...
New measures announced for Belgian schools
Stricter rules are being implemented across a variety of sectors in Belgium to curb the rising number of infections and limit the damage as a result ...
Majority of booster doses should be administered by March 2022
Invitations will be sent out in the following days for the general population in Belgium to receive a coronavirus booster vaccine, and most adults ...