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I-TEAM: Breakthrough from UK isn’t new, local experts say

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 6:09 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Researchers in the United Kingdom say they’ve made a breakthrough when it comes to treating patients with coronavirus with a new drug called dexamethasone. But doctors at Augusta University Health have already been using it for weeks now.

You might have gotten an alert earlier this week from the BBC in London: “Coronavirus: dexamethasone proves first life-saving drug.”

Well, the truth about dexamethasone is that it’s a common steroid, and it’s not exactly new to the world.

“Come on now! This is ridiculous! We’ve been using steroids here for a month,” Dr. Jose Vazquez, the chief infectious disease expert at AU Health, said.

Vazquez says the treatment works but warns it’s not really a new breakthrough as it’s been billed. He didn’t quite understand why it was getting all this attention earlier this week, especially because he says the study hadn’t even been pre-printed yet.

Also, you've probably heard of, or maybe even have taken, the drug prednisone before. Vazquez says dexamethasone is basically just a stronger version.

“That’s actually part of our protocol here is to give low-dose steroids,” he said. “It’s not for a long time. It’s only for five days, and the thought behind that is to diminish the cytokine storm, or the inflammatory response, that we see.”

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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