DEXAMETHASONE: A NEW-FOUND POTENTIAL CURE FOR COVID-19 OR NOT?
For quite a while now the world is facing the havoc created by COVID-19 as it still continues to spread. Though various potential cures for battling the have also made rounds among people, they all didn’t attain the expected results.
Cures and remedies for COVID-19 so far
The first medicine hyped to be the most effective remedy for COVID-19 was Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug. Though it had numerous limitations and thus came under radar for its effectiveness. A study published in Med journal stated that administering the drug – with or without the Azithromycin (antibiotic) – had no use as COVID-19 treatment. Further, this was substantiated with US FDA mentioning that patients were at higher risk when given this combo instead of only anti-malarial drug.
Later, another drug Remdesivir – that was not much studied in comparison to Hydroxychloroquine —also surfaced as a key potential treatment against COVID-19. However, an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was issued by FDA—with inadequate data about effectiveness and safety of Remdesivir–as it presented a decline in recovery period in few COVID-19 patients. Though, this was challenged by a latest study showing that the decline in recovery period was not uniform among all patients. And later, it was cleared that the recovery period decreased only for patients having moderate or mild symptoms. And then in the latest of events, Dexamethasone surfaced as the newest potential cure.
The newest possible treatment for COVID-19: Dexamethasone
Scientists, after debate over Hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy, now have made a key progress in the battle of the world against the virus: Dexamethasone, the anti-inflammatory drug, is deemed to be a likely treatment for the disease. This conclusion arrived following a clinical trial–Randomized Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial—directed by the University of Oxford, UK. The largest global clinical trial pursued to verify the effectiveness of a group of treatment channels: Tocilizumab, Lopinavir–Ritonavir, Convalescent plasma therapy (CPT), Azithromycin, and the corticosteroid Dexamethasone.
As per the trial’s result, the use of Dexamethasone could prevent one death among every 8 COVID-19 patients placed on ventilators. Likewise, this drug could also prevent one death in every 25 COVID-19 patients who were on oxygen. Thus, with the published information, it was sufficient for the world to announce Dexamethasone as the latest potential treatment for COVID-19. The key reason for this is Dexamethasone functions by decreasing the inflammation by generating anti-inflammatory hormones within the human body. The immune system of the body, in order to fight back the novel coronavirus, gives rise to inflammation. At times, in its reaction, the immune system can get extremely active (that can be lethal in some instances) and Dexamethasone assists to tranquilize this effect. Furthermore, apart from the positive results during the clinical trial, Dexamethasone has also been endorsed globally for its affordability. The drug is produced by several Indian producers and is retailed for less than Rs 10 for 10 ml.
Approval of Dexamethasone in India
There are Indian doctors and scientists who are hopeful about the efficacy of Dexamethasone, whereas other few are unsure of using it without research and performing their own studies of the complete text of the results of the trial. A few deem this to possibly aid in decreasing the mortality rate of patients placed on ventilators. Though, it accompanies a warning note: Dexamethasone shouldn’t be utilized at home or patients having mild symptoms. In the end, it is a steroid and may aggravate the condition, supposing to be extremely risky and even fatal.
However, on June 27, 2020, a key decision was made by the Union Health Ministry of India despite no applicable information to substantiate Dexamethasone’s use. It pronounced a reassessed version of the “Clinical Management Protocol: COVID-19” that involved the recommendation to use Dexamethasone rather than Methylprednisolone for treatment of patients with moderate to severe symptoms. As per this protocol, the steroid can be utilized for treating COVID-19 patients who display extreme inflammatory response to the condition and those who need oxygen support. This followed the directives of WHO that mentioned that Dexamethasone should be administered to patients only under medical supervision and with severe conditions. Thus, in comparison to Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine, Dexamethasone proves to be better alternative and hope new studies can further substantiate this claim.