Breakthrough in the fight against Corona? Why on dexamethasone now so many hopes to rest

Severe illness or deaths to prevent: A drug that this provides, would be a huge win in the ongoing Corona pandemic. The effect of various drugs, including antiviral agents such as Remdesivir, is currently being tested in clinical trials. In many cases, it was reported in the last few weeks about these Tests.

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Now, however, a different means for headlines provides: It bears the name of dexamethasone, and the mortality of critically ill Covid seems to reduce the of 19 patients. This is the conclusion of scientists from the United Kingdom, after they had analyzed data from Thousands of Covid-19-patients. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the world health organization (WHO) said it was a “life-saving scientific breakthrough” in the fight against Covid-19.

What is the means? And what renowned infections say boxes from Germany to the study results? The most important questions and answers in an Overview.

What is the trigger for the headlines is?

Scientists at Oxford University have released preliminary results of a large-scale drugs study from the United Kingdom. The results are summarized here. The data come from a part of the so-called “Recovery Trial”, in the physicians the effect of different therapies for Covid-19-examine patients.

How did the researchers?

In the context of the study of 2104 patients had received the anti-inflammatory agent dexamethasone. The researchers compared the mortality in this group of 4321 patients were, by default, treated. It was shown to benefit critically ill patients on ventilators rails of the drug. The mortality rate in these patients dropped by one-third (35 percent) compared to the control group. In patients who have only received oxygen, decreased the mortality rate by a fifth. With a milder progress of disease, the means showed no effect.

The researchers come to the conclusion that dexamethasone could prevent every eighth case of death in critically ill patients.

What dexamethasone is?

Dexamethasone is a drug is a Cortisone. The Mediterranean is in many anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress the immune system. The areas of application are many and varied. Dexamethsaon, for example, in the treatment of allergies, rheumatoid Arthritis, and Asthma to use.


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According to the “Yellow list” is the risk of adverse reactions in a short-term therapy of “low”. The agent is administered in high doses, however, it can lead to heart rhythm disorders and disturbances of electrolyte balance.

Why are the results so important?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, researchers and doctors are looking for a drug that reduces mortality from Covid-19-patients. Great hopes rested, first, on the anti-viral agents such as Remdesivir and chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine. First results of the study suggest that, for example, Remdesivir can shorten the duration of illness of Corona patients. The originally Malaria-funds approved chloroquine in the United States temporarily for a special permit for use at Covid-19-patients. This approval was, however, pulled back with reference to the unclear effectiveness.

Should the results of the study conducted in the UK confirm would be dexamethasone the first form of treatment, the death rate for the most severely ill Covid-19 patients have been proved to reduces.

Why is interpret the study with caution?

So far, only few data of the study are known. A scientific publication of the study, there is not yet. This would, however, be important to the approach of the researchers in more detail and to examine critically.

What Infectious disease specialists from Germany, say the study?

Gerd Fätkenheuer, head of infectious diseases at the University hospital of Cologne, holds the preliminary data is “very compelling and believable”: “The results – which are published in full, you still have to wait and see – in favour of Corticosteroids in severe cases of infection with Sars-CoV-2 to use.“

“From a biological point of view, this effect is not completely surprising, since in particular the seriously ill patient was under an excessive immune response will suffer,” says Maria Vehreschild, head of the center of gravity of infectious diseases at the University hospital of the Goethe University Frankfurt. “Cortisone is a classic approach to treatment, the immune system to suppress. Surprisingly, the strength of the demonstrated effect is.”

The observed effect is due to the drug is likely to be indirect, and not primarily against the Virus itself, stressed Clemens Wendtner, chief of infectious diseases and tropical medicine, Munich-Schwabing in Munich clinic. Thus, the agent could kill including immune cells, in consequence of a deadly lung will prevent edema.

Wendtner language of a comparatively “simple and cheap measure”. At the same time he stressed, however, that the study does not allow for any conclusions to be drawn for use in mild diseased Covid-19-patients. It is exclusively hard-to-symptomatic patients “who had required a stay in hospital had been treated”, so Wendtner. The best tool in the fight against Covid-19 was, in his opinion, such as before an effective vaccine.

Sources: Yellow list /quotes-according to “Science Medica Center”

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