Scientists in the United Kingdom have reportedly claimed to have discovered a major breakthrough in treating coronavirus patients with the use of a cheap and available drug known as Dexamethasone.

The drug, which cost a patient less than N2,500 (5 Pounds) has proven to reduce the risk of dying from coronavirus, by a third in patients on ventilators, while reducing the risk of dying by a fifth, for those on oxygen.

The researchers said, “There is a clear, clear benefit. The treatment lasts for up to 10 days and it costs about £5 per patient. This is a drug that is globally available.”

According to them, a lot of lives would have been saved if this drug had been used earlier.

In the trial, led by a team of researchers from Oxford University, around 2,000 hospital patients were given the treatment and were compared with more than 4,000 who did not receive the drug.

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

It should however, be noted that Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with mild symptoms of coronavirus, that is those who do not need help with their breathing.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has reacted in a tweet on its official Twitter handle, saying that the drug will not be used to treat patients because it has not been approved by the World Health Organization, (WHO)

It said, “The NCDC is aware of recent outcomes from a UK-Government funded clinical trial for COVID-19.

NCDC said, “The results support the use of Dexamethsaone as a possible treatment to reduce the risk of death among COVID-19 patients, who require oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

“Please note that the Government of Nigeria has not validated or approved any treatment for COVID-19.

“In addition, the use of Dexamethasone for COVID-19 treatment has not been validated by @WHO.”

Data from NCDC shows that confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria is growing astronomically, despite measures put in place to curtail the spread of the pandemic. 424 fatalities have been recorded so far in Nigeria, and this according to the Scientists could have been avoided if dexamethasone had been discovered earlier.