Dexamethasone is said to be the first drug proven to save lives against COVID-19, and it’s cheap and easily available.
However, you should NOT use dexamethasone as a COVID-19 prophylaxis – taking it to prevent being infected!
Dexamethasone : What Is It?
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug that was first produced in 1957, and approved for medical use in 1961.
It is used to reduce inflammation in a wide number of conditions – from skin diseases and allergies to certain cancers.
It is also cheap and widely available, which makes it easy for people who to obtain and use it prophylactically against COVID-19.
Dexamethasone : First COVID-19 Treatment To Save Lives!
On 16 June 2020, Professor Peter Hornby reported that preliminary trial results of the Oxford University RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY) study showed that :
Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result.
The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients.
Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.
Here is a short summary of Oxford University’s press release on the study :
A total of 2104 patients were randomised to receive dexamethasone 6 mg once per day (either by mouth or by intravenous injection) for ten days and were compared with 4321 patients randomised to usual care alone.
Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients (rate ratio 0.65 [95% confidence interval 0.48 to 0.88]; p=0.0003) and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only (0.80 [0.67 to 0.96]; p=0.0021). There was no benefit among those patients who did not require respiratory support (1.22 [0.86 to 1.75; p=0.14).
Based on these results, 1 death would be prevented by treatment of around 8 ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone.
As important as these findings are, it is extremely important that we should NOT use dexamethasone as a COVID-19 prophylaxis.
Why You Should NOT Use Dexamethasone As COVID-19 Prophylaxis
Reason #1 : It Only Works On Patients On Respiratory Support
The Oxford University RECOVERY press statement explicitly stated that dexamethasone only helped patients on respiratory support, reducing deaths for :
- patients on ventilators : by one-third (33%)
- patients receiving oxygen : by one-fifth (20%)
There was no benefit among those patients who did not require respiratory support.
If you have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms – not requiring respiratory assistance – then dexamethasone cannot help improve your outcome.
Reason #2 : Dexamethasone Has No Effect On SARS-CoV-2
Dexamethasone has no effect on the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes the COVID-19 disease).
It can neither destroy it, or stop it from replicating. Instead, its effectiveness in reducing patient deaths appears to be due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
It appears to prevent or reduce damage from an immune system overreaction called a cytokine storm that can occur in severe COVID-19 cases.
Reason #3 : Dexamethasone Makes You Vulnerable To Infections
Dexamethasone is an immunosuppressant, which means it will suppress your body’s immune system, and make you more susceptible to infections.
Taking dexamethasone will actually make you more likely to get infected by SARS-CoV-2 or other microbes!
Reason #3 : Dexamethasone Has Dangerous Side Effects
Dexamethasone should not be taken unless it is necessary, because it has many dangerous side effects, like :
- Eyes : Cataracts, glaucoma
- Endocrine : Hyperglycemia, hirsutism, Cushing syndrome
- Cardiovascular : Congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias
- Skin : Acne, striae, bruising, discolouration, thinning, impaired wound healing
- Other : Weight gain, reduced fertility, fluid retention
DO NOT use dexamethasone as a prophylaxis for COVID-19. Dexamethasone cannot cure or prevent COVID-19!
COVID-19 : How To Keep Safe!
Here are a few simple steps to stay safe from COVID-19 :
- Avoid suspected cases or disease hotpots, like hospitals, if possible!
- Avoid public events and crowds
- Keep our hands clean with soap or hand sanitiser
- Keep our home, office, vehicles, etc. clean
- If you need to wear a surgical mask, make sure you put it on and remove it properly!
- Wash your food with water (and soap) after purchase and before preparation
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