White House doctor announced Trump is being treated with dexamethasone. Here’s what we know about the drug.
President Donald Trump’s condition has continued to improve since being taken to the hospital Friday due to symptoms from a COVID-19 infection, White House physician Sean Conley told reporters on Sunday.
Conley had previously said he was using a “multi-prong” approach to treat Trump. He said Sunday that included the steroid dexamethasone in response to Trump’s blood oxygen level dropping twice.
An affordable, widely available steroid, dexamethasone has shown promise in improving survival outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
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Although the British government has authorized its use among some patients, it remains unclear how beneficial the treatment may be for less severe COVID-19 cases. Further, it has not been peer-reviewed or replicated in other studies.
“This is a significant improvement in the available therapeutic options that we have,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert.
What we know about the potentially lifesaving treatment:
What is dexamethasone?
Usually prescribed as an oral or intravenous steroid, dexamethasone is a general purpose anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling drug used for a variety of conditions, said Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor of medicine at Yale, in June.
Like other steroids, however, “it is a non-specific treatment not necessarily targeting a single, specific pathway of inflammation or swelling,” Ogbuagu says. That has its drawbacks.
How is it used to treat COVID-19 patients?
Generally, COVID-19 comes in two phases, explained Ogbuagu.
“People get the virus, it replicates, and that’s the first phase of the