Health Minister Robin Swann welcomes the announcement today that clinical trials found the drug Dexamethasone to be an effective treatment for Covid-19.

Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has proven to reduce the risk of dying in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35% and patients on oxygen by 20%. These results make it the world’s first medical breakthrough in treatments for the virus.

The Minister said This is an important breakthrough in the treatment of coronavirus, in particular in reducing the risk of dying from the infection.  Dexamethasone is ready available to be immediately used in our hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said: “The clinical trials started in March and I am delighted the results are so positive. Dexamethasone is a well-known and widely available drug which will significantly reduce mortality in those who require oxygen or ventilation as a result of COVID-19. I will issue advice to clinicians shortly.”

In conclusion, the Minister said: “Science and research has been at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to be well into the future. While we are easing restrictions and taking steps to come out of lockdown, this news may not seem significant however we must all remember this virus is still with us, it is still circulating in our communities, it is still a threat.

“The positive findings for Dexamethasone will allow us to roll the drug out across Northern Ireland in advance of a potential second wave, providing huge benefits to those most impacted by the infection, ultimately helping to save lives.”

Dexamethasone is one of several drugs to be trialled in the largest randomised controlled clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments in the world, RECOVERY, led by Oxford University and funded by the government through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).