Analysis Breaking

Tories cut budget of organisation that identified #Dexamethasone’s effectiveness against virus by 4% since they came to power

Dexamethasone could have saved thousands of UK lives if effectiveness discovered earlier, say experts

A steroid commonly used to treat people and animals has been shown to be effective in combating the worst effects of COVID-19. Dexamethasone fights the immune response ‘cytokine storm’ in response to infection that damages the lungs of some sufferers and has been responsible for a majority of deaths.

The drug is not a guaranteed treatment, but experts says its use could have saved thousands of lives in the UK if its effectiveness had been understood.

Matt Hancock is trying to absorb credit for the discovery on behalf of the Tories in interviews this morning. However, the Tory government only increased the budget of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which funded the Oxford University research, by a paltry quarter in the ten years since the Tories came to power – a real-terms funding cut of around 4% compared to inflation (2010/11 budget £921.1m, 2018/19 budget £1,152.4m – and increase of around 25% vs inflation in the same period of around 29%).

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17 comments

  1. Don’t overstate – I remember when (not long ago) ventilators were the saviour of those with severe lung disease! In fact – inappropriate use killed a lot of people.

    This is a promising result from an initial trial – but as to “could have saved thousands of UK lives” – No.

    Firstly, the numbers who reach, or did reach, (now that the epidemic wave has passed) that stage of illness, were very low (remember that even in Care Homes, less than 50% of deaths were possibly from Covid-19). Then the treatment may be helpful to only at most a third of that number. This according to the WHO assessment.

    To put it in perspective – ‘miracle cures’ aren’t needed to fight a generally mild virus. And this isn’t one – it’s a possibly useful medicine for rare extreme cases.

  2. Dexamethasone. This may be a silly question but……….if it is an old drug that has been on the market & used to help stop your body using your own immune system killing you & this is a known & frequent cause of death with Covid 19; then why has it taken so long for it to be ‘rediscovered’?

    1. Quite simple – because it’s not been properly clinically trialled for this purpose.

      On the ‘let’s rush out vaccines/treatments’ narrative – the old ‘follow the money’ judgment holds good when assessing the justification for a dropping of normal protection in the use of drugs.

      1. RH, I believe in this instance “follow the money” isn’t necessary – afaik the drug is out of patent/cheap/generic and a dose is around a fiver.

      2. “I believe in this instance “follow the money” isn’t necessary”

        It’s always necessary in this field, David. Have a look at the recent cost of cheap masks (a truly dubious palliative)

    2. Because there are many more newer, more effective [normally], steroids on the drugs list. And I’d like to point-out that people are not intubated until they are in serious respiratory distress and running into exhaustion.

    3. Dexamethasone hadn’t been used for this purpose (some of the conditions it’s usually prescribed for are shown on the bottle in SB’s picture), so there needed to be a proper trial of it before anyone could make any claims. We’ve all seen the hydroxychloroquine does/doesn’t it work hokey-cokey, which can happen when you draw too many conclusions from small trials, or ones with methodological problems.

      The scientists included dexamethasone because they suspected it could work, but they still needed evidence before they could say so. Hats off to them for their educated hunch, though.

      True, it only shows benefits for people intubated or receiving additional oxygen, so people suffering the greatest from the infection, but I think we can all agree that this is better than nothing.

      1. Getting my correction in early: it seems that they may have trialled dexamethasone during the SARS outbreak, with mixed results. So please mentally add this bit to my first comment.

  3. It only works when you are already severely ill and only has a 20% success rate. To have been able to save thousands of lives is unrealistic. We would have needed 5,000 people in intensive care to save 1,000, assuming that all 1,000 would have died without it.
    While any step forward is good, I feel this has been over-hyped by a government keen to get us all back to work by making us feel safer.

  4. Today Matt Hancock was asked by Philippa Whitford (SNP) why a multi-million pound contract (£108m?) for PPE had been awarded to a small pest control company with a tiny capital value (£18,000 iirc?).
    She asked him why such a massive contract had been awarded to a company with no known expertise or history in PPE – a perfectly reasonable question that deserved an answer one would have thought – but Hancock just blethered and bullshitted and failed even to reference the question itself.

    I think he’s definitely a contender for the Grayling Cup.
    Which isn’t actually a cup – it’s a ship in a bottle. An invisible ship, obviously.

  5. There is a lot of info on twitter doing the rounds about how this drug has already been in use in other countries against the virus – Spain, France and India that I have heard about so far….

  6. RH lately has written nothing but a constant outpouring of anti-skwawkbox bile and Covid-conspiracy bollocks.
    Any SB post on any subject, RH will try to rubbish it.
    Some of his criticisms are so thin on logic it’s hard to imagine why he bothers when they only strip away any remaining shred of credibility.
    He tries so hard to challenge SB’s position on everything that it begs the question “Why does he still come here every day?”

    And his spelling’s turned to shit – it’s almost as if some dumb private’s standing in for Cpl. Hayward at Gateside Mills.

    1. Once again – ad hominem shite and nothing of substance.

      All I write on theis subject is based on evidence (this last comment referencing the WHO) – unlike this load of bile-cum-crap. I criticize SB because, on the Covid-19 issue, it’s as accurate and informative as The Sun and Daily Bile with jounalism tailored to match the story rather than the truth. I do have utter contempt for such Newspeak.

      I don’t read the Groan or listen to the Beeb without critical faculties in operation. Why should I join an unthinking Skwawkbox fan-club and leave my brain at the door?

      Try using evidence, David; argue against my interpretation, if you will … or if you *can* (which I begin to fear is a skill that has left you if you ever had it). Give me your own analysis of historical mortality figures, if you doubt mine (which I have posted). Read my post above, and tell me what you wish to refute – or if you deny that Johnson, in the Commons, was indeed exaggerating about the applicability of this drug in exactly the same way.

      … or carry on blustering with unfocused rage and discontent, supporting the government narrative – like Corporal Jones polishing his medals and dressed up with nowhere to go.

      1. Good to see you don’t stoop so low as to employ ad hominems…

      2. It is always noticeable that people who consistently are up in arms about anyone who will not leaving their critical thinking skills in the bunker . Moreover, to accept the consensus, the narrative of a disease which has a fatality rate of between 0.2-0.46%, has a median of between 80-86, has by a very margin an incidence of the unfortunate people have two or comorbidities. They can usually offer no verifiable evidence to substantiate, what is in effect their diatribe, to their claim. The retort to your post is but one example, followed by a second outburst.

      3. If you want your comments to appear incisive and apposite, Bubber, you need someone to proof read them for garbling.
        I only charge £45.00 per hour.

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