News & Politics

Dexamethasone for Severe COVID-19 Demonstrates Life-Saving Efficacy

Employees work in a research and development lab of Beijing Applied Biological Technologies, a firm which is developing COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test kits, during a government organized tour for journalists in Beijing, Thursday, May 14, 2020. China reported three new coronavirus cases Thursday while moving to reopen for business and schools. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Another blow for the corporate media and their panic porn about COVID-19. According to scientists in the U.K., the inexpensive and generic dexamethasone is showing life-saving results. This is great news for patients suffering from serve COVID-19 in the future. The sad part is this is a treatment for the symptoms of a cytokine storm, an overactive immune response, not the virus itself.

This is frustrating because doctors in the United States have been pushing this theory for months. Pulmonologist Dr. Thomas Yadegar, ICU director of Providence Cedars-Sinai, was treating critically ill  patients with powerful anti-inflammatories like dexamethasone based on their inflammatory lab profile in March:

In the interview, he said COVID-19 actually causes two problems. The first is an infectious upper respiratory disease caused by the virus which may be anything from asymptomatic to severe. It can cause complications similar to severe influenza such as pneumonia and may still be deadly in compromised patients.

However, the majority of patients coming into their ICU displaying rapid deterioration and requiring ventilation have inflammatory markers consistent with Cytokine Storm Syndrome. This syndrome is an overactivation of the patient’s own immune system. It causes the patient’s own immune defenses to attack their organs. They are basically suffering from an induced autoimmune disorder which can cause the full range of complications, depending on the patient, including atypical clots and myocarditis that are being reported.

Dr. Yadegar went on to say the medications and treatment provided depended on the individual labs and body systems being affected by the overactive immune response. This got almost no notice in the corporate media, possibly because, at the time, Dr. Yadegar and his team had treated approximately 35 patients with severe COVID-19 and none had deteriorated to the point of needing a ventilator. That would have disrupted the panic porn.

The U.K. trial has found encouraging results for this single treatment.

In the trial, led by a team from Oxford University, about 2,000 hospital patients were given dexamethasone and compared with more than 4,000 who were not.

For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%. For patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25% to 20%.

Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.”

Though as Dr. Yadegar found, there may need to be a more detailed protocol using multiple medications to treat an individual patient’s inflammatory profile.

To date, the team has treated between 30 and 35 patients this way, according to Dr. Yadegar. However, there is a rub. They have been treated with 30-35 different regimens based on their clinical profiles. It is also absolutely essential that the inflammatory process that accompanies Cytokine Storm Syndrome is confirmed. Giving the medications that decrease inflammation and immune response could be deadly to a patient not suffering from this condition.

The politicization of this virus caused promising work in the United States to be suppressed that could have saved countless lives if broadly communicated. It also caused a certain amount of amnesia in the global health community. Or maybe they were just too focused on a profitable new vaccine.

In many ways, this pandemic has exposed the weakness of the global health apparatus. Chinese researchers were using another anti-inflammatory and published a paper on March 13, 2020.

Doctors in China wrote a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association on March 13, 2020 noting some success with methlyprednisone, an immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory.

Perhaps they recalled what neither the NIH nor the WHO recollected. New Scientist posted an article in 2003 regarding the importance of research into this severe immune response. COVID-19’s first cousin, SARS, caused the same immune response:

ON 5 JULY this year the SARS epidemic was officially declared over. Doctors breathed a sigh of relief, but for scientists the work was just beginning. In dozens of labs all over the world, research on the virus is intensifying.

The researchers aren’t just worried that SARS might make a comeback – although that is still a real possibility. They are concerned because it seems to have killed people by triggering a runaway release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, in a so-called “cytokine storm” that can be more deadly than the virus itself. This is how numerous diseases kill, from pneumonia to flu, making it one of the hottest topics in infectious disease research right now. And it has proved maddeningly hard to treat, with average fatality rates topping 50 per cent in full-blown “septic shock”, as the clinical condition is known.

The NIH was conducting research on SARS and cytokine storms in 2005. Where did that research go? Why did no one in a position of authority say, “Hey guys, wait a minute. Remember that crazy thing about SARS? You know, the immune system thing.” Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell tried to tell them in a video posted on March 31, 2020.

The news on dexamethasone is promising for many patients. Combined with the work of Dr. Yadegar and his team, perhaps they can create clinical paths that will save even more patients based on their unique clinical profile. Form the experience at Providence Cedars-Sinai, a one-size-fits-all solution does not seem reasonable given the range of symptoms a cytokine storm can cause.

Researchers in the U.K. estimate that if the drug had been used from the beginning of the pandemic, it could have saved 5,000 lives. Can you imagine how many lives could have been saved if doctors and clinicians, rather than “global health experts,” had been prominent in the U.S. response? Prominent in the U.S. media?

The good news about dexamethasone highlights an unmitigated failure in our global and national health organizations. At one point these institutions knew what SARS and other viruses transmitted from animals to humans were capable of doing to the body. The best-case scenario is that the knowledge bank failed when it mattered. The worst-case scenario is that it was deliberately suppressed. We are all owed an answer to what happened, not just at the WHO, but in our own NIH.

The conclusion is that, should another pandemic approach our shores, we should be listening to doctors who are treating patients. The experts failed us spectacularly this time around.