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Canadian doctors impressed by Oxford dexamethasone study

In findings released this week, Oxford University researchers hailed dexamethasone as the first drug that can improve COVID-19 survival.
By: Stewart Wiseman
June 19, 2020
Photo: Yves Herman / Reuters

A new study by Oxford University this week revealed the first evidence in human trials that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival. Dexamethasone, a steroid administered orally or through IV, was found to reduce deaths in one third of severe COVID-19 hospitalized patients. The study randomly selected 2,104 COVID-19 patients to receive dexamethasone, and compared the results with 4,321 patients who received regular COVID-19 care. Although the steroid had little effect on patients with moderate to minimal cases of COVID-19, it was found to reduce the number of deaths by 35% for patients on ventilators, and by 20% for patients on supplemental oxygen. Dr. Peter Horby of Oxford University said that dexamethasone should be the "standard of care" in severe COVID-19 cases, and with the steroid's low price, he said it can be used "immediately to save lives worldwide."

The groundbreaking findings were received with excitement by the Canadian medical community. Dr. David Juurlink, the head of clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto, said that the findings of the dexamethasone study are "grabbing the attention" of every hospital physician treating patients with COVID-19. "I think we're going to start using it [dexamethasone] right away," said Dr. Juurlink. McGill University Health Centre infectious disease researcher and physician Dr. Todd Lee said the results of the study appear to be "substantial," but he will wait until the full publication of the study next week before recommending the use of dexamethasone for all COVID-19 patients. Dr. Lee warned that "it's very hard to practice medicine from a press release," but he said that low-risk patients who require ventilators or oxygen should receive dexamethasone.

Source: CBC News

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