After researchers found that dexamethasone helped reduce COVID-19 deaths, a man who took the steroid drug claims it “definitely” helped save his life.
Retired manager Peter Herring, who used to work at the John Lewis department store in Cambridge, was given doses of the world's first COVID-19 treatment as part of a trial at the city's Addenbrooke's Hospital.
The 69-year-old, from Little Downham, near Ely, was admitted to hospital on 28 April and given the drug in tablet form from early in his stay, in what he believes was a daily dose.
He was well enough to be discharged on 6 May, and it took a further fortnight of recovery at home before he felt "back to normal”.
Herring said: "I was struggling for breath really and I was on oxygen [when admitted to hospital].
"They said, would I like to do a trial? They didn't say what drug and it could have been one of three or four because they were trying different ones, which I agreed to.
"Obviously he gave me the right one. There was no magic switch, it was a gradual coming back really. It wasn't anything overnight.”
Asked if he believed dexamethasone helped save his life, he said: “Definitely."
He added: "I'm here to tell the story and I'm really thankful to the NHS for that. It's really, really good.
"I had no qualms about doing a trial because my way of thinking is it would hopefully help other people if they do find that it works, and it's worked and that's really brilliant.”
A study of dexamethasone, coordinated by Oxford University, suggests it is the first drug found to reduce deaths from coronavirus.
It has been described as the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far.
Researchers found that the drug reduced deaths by up to a third among patients on ventilators, and by a fifth for those on oxygen.
It has been immediately approved to treat all UK COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital and requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.
Scientists estimate that if they had known what they now know about dexamethasone at the start of the pandemic, 4,000 to 5,000 lives could have been saved in the UK.
They added that, based on their results, one death would be prevented by treatment of around eight patients on ventilators, or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone.
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