Coronavirus breakthrough: Dexamethasone is first drug shown to save lives
In a large trial, a cheap and widely available steroid cut deaths by one-third among patients critically ill with COVID-19.
An inexpensive and commonly used steroid can save the lives of people seriously ill with COVID-19, a randomized, controlled clinical trial in the United Kingdom has found. The drug, called dexamethasone, is the first shown to reduce deaths from the coronavirus that has killed more than 430,000 people globally. In the trial, it cut deaths by about one-third in patients who were on ventilators because of coronavirus infection.
“It’s a startling result,” says Kenneth Baillie, an intensive-care physician at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who serves on the steering committee of the trial, called RECOVERY. “It will clearly have a massive global impact.” The RECOVERY study announced the findings in a press release on 16 June, but its researchers say that they are aiming to publish their results quickly and that they are sharing their findings with regulators in the United Kingdom and internationally.
Interpretation of Forecasts of New Hospitalizations
National forecasts vary considerably for the numbers of new COVID-19 hospitalizations occurring per day and for trends in hospitalizations over the coming weeks. On July 1, the forecasts estimate that there will be between 2,500 and 12,000 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day in the United States.
Forecasts estimate the number of new hospitalizations from a variety of data sets of COVID-19 cases or deaths. The use of different data sets, with different limitations—along with the use of different assumptions about social distancing—may result in the high variation between forecasts.
CDC works with partners to bring together weekly forecasts for new COVID-19 hospitalizations. These forecasts make different assumptions about social distancing measures and use different methods and data sets to estimate the number of new hospitalizations. Individual models are described in more detail below.
Social distancing is incorporated into the forecasts in two different ways:
The national and state-level forecasts from Columbia University, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and the Johns Hopkins University Infectious Disease Dynamics Lab (JHU) make assumptions about how levels of social distancing will change in the future.
The national and state-level forecasts from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the state-level forecast from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) assume that existing social distancing measures in each state will continue through the projected four-week time period.
The rate of new hospitalizations is estimated using two approaches:
The forecasts from Columbia University, LANL, ERDC, and JHU assume that a certain fraction of infected people will be hospitalized.
The IHME forecast estimates hospitalizations based on numbers of forecasted deaths.
The four national forecasts show the predicted number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day for the next four weeks in the United States.
As noted above, the forecasts make different assumptions about hospitalization rates and levels of social distancing and other interventions and use different methods to estimate the number of new hospitalizations. See models below for details.
Five state-level models predicting the number of new hospitalizations were submitted this week. These forecasts show the predicted number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day for the next four weeks in each state. Each state forecast uses a different scale, due to differences in the number of new COVID-19 cases occurring per day in each state.