Date published: 
17 June 2020
Media type: 
Statement
Audience: 
General public

AHPPC notes the preliminary media reports of the results of a randomised trial of the use of dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, in the management of hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

Whilst only a single trial, it appears to be a large well-conducted study. The investigators reported a significant reduction in mortality in patients on mechanical ventilation and in those requiring oxygen, but not in those with less severe illness. AHPPC notes that dexamethasone appears to reduce mortality, but mortality was still 29% in ventilated patients and 22% in patients on supplemental oxygen who were treated with dexamethasone.

Although this seems to be an exciting development, further examination of the scientific results, when published, will be required to confirm the efficacy of dexamethasone for severe COVID-19. It is likely that dexamethasone operates by reducing inflammation of the lung in severe disease, and thus would not be expected to be useful in the prevention of COVID-19.

The availability of this treatment doesn’t reduce our need to prevent and control community transmission of COVID-19 as the mortality of severe COVID-19.

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