'Covid' Ops: Dexamethasone deception

Steroid use hardly a breakthrough treatment

'Covid' Ops: Dexamethasone deception
Is dexamethasone really a breakthrough?

It’s clearly a positive development in the fight against this fabricated Covid19 crisis the world is facing, but is the “miracle” treatment recently unveiled by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson really such a breakthrough?

The steroid dexamethasone has joined a growing list of super drugs purported to bring this “terrible” virus under control, improving the chances of a swift recovery for some infected patients.

But steroids are hardly a new intervention for patients suffering from chronic respiratory conditions, with corticosteroids widely administered to treat such cases.

A type of corticosteroid medication, dexamethasone is generally accepted as being a treatment for many conditions such as rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, brain swelling, eye pain following eye surgery and, along with antibiotics, for tuberculosis.

Dexamethasone falls into the category called glucocorticoids, which are types of corticosteroid hormones that are known to be effective at reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system.

Inflammation is the way our immune system responds to harmful substances and trauma and is part of our healing process. However, if the usual control mechanisms that turn the process of inflammation off aren’t functioning properly and it continues unabated, our tissues can become damaged. Continued inflammation is associated with many chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression and heart disease.

Glucocorticoids are secreted naturally by our adrenal gland in response to stress and have numerous effects on our bodies that are essential for life. Glucocorticoid drugs such as dexamethasone are synthetic versions of these hormones.

And while it is being touted by Johnson as a miracle treatment for Covid19, it does come with some serious side effects that can be very damaging, explaining why these drugs aren’t prescribed for long-term use that could lead to a loss of muscle tissue and result in Cushing’s syndrome.

The drugs can also increase a person’s blood sugar level, which can trigger temporary and possibly long-term diabetes, while also suppressing a person’s ability to absorb calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Other side-effects can increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while also increasing the risk of ulcers and gastritis. Another worrying side-effect is that by suppressing a person’s immune system it can leave the body more prone to infections.

A cheap and widely available drug, University of Oxford researchers are now saying it can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with coronavirus… which shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise since previous studies have suggested corticosteroids can reduce deaths in adults with severe community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and lower clinical failure rates, shortening the time to cure, resulting in shorter hospital stays, and generally leading to fewer complications.

It has been reported that had the drug been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved. The question then should be, well why wasn’t it?

The UK government has 200,000 courses of the drug in its stockpile and says the NHS will make dexamethasone available to patients. One wonders whether they’ll be told about possible side-effects, or simply be unwittingly administered with a drug that could make their condition worse?

Johnson has said it is a genuine case to celebrate "a remarkable British scientific achievement", adding: "We have taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies, even in the event of a second peak."

Now, anyone with a modicum of commonsense should be aware a second peak is coming, after all the propaganda from the start has been building up to it. However, a core criterion for a second peak required a lifting of the lockdown, so the next phase of the bogus pandemic should soon be on our doorsteps.

Recently an area of the Chinese capital Beijing was put under strict lockdown measures following the city's first coronavirus cases in more than 50 days. Although none were displaying symptoms, a total of 45 people out of 517 tested at the Xinfadi market were positive for Covid19, a district official said.

Lockdowns have been imposed in 11 nearby neighbourhoods, while 10,000 market staff will be tested. The authorities also want to test everyone who has had recent contact with the market as well as those living in the district surrounding it.

Once again, I don’t get it, no symptoms but 11 neighbourhoods locked down? Makes no sense! How long do we give it before further draconian measures are reintroduced in the UK?

A BBC report on the use of dexamethasone says about 19 out of 20 patients with coronavirus are thought to recover without being admitted to hospital, while for high-risk patients requiring oxygen or mechanical ventilation dexamethasone appears to help.

In the study, led by the Oxford University team, about 2,000 hospital patients were given dexamethasone and compared with more than 4,000 who were not. For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40 per cent to 28 per cent, while for patients needing oxygen it cut the risk of death from 25 per cent to 20 per cent.

Chief investigator Professor Peter Horby said: "This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality, and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough."

The “recovery trial” which has been running since March also looked at the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has subsequently been ditched amid concerns it increases fatalities and heart problems, although US President Donald Trump has been a big fan of it.

Dexamethasone is now the second drug available in the NHS arsenal to treat Covid19, after antiviral HIV medicine remdesivir, which appears to shorten recovery time for people with coronavirus, was last month given the green light by the NHS.

According to the BBC report, the only other drug proven to benefit Covid patients, the use of remdesivir surely adds fuel to scientific studies from India and China supporting the notion that HIV traits in the Covid19 virus suggest it could have been engineered in a laboratory.

Remdesivir is believed to reduce the duration of coronavirus symptoms from 15 days to 11, but unlike dexamethasone is a newer drug with more limited supplies.

However, with dexamethasone and other corticosteroids having been used since the early 1960s, one wonders why the UK government is heralding it as such a breakthrough, when it should possibly be explaining why it hasn’t been used more widely since the start of the pandemic?

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has described the results as “astounding”, claiming it will help to “save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus”.

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty called it the “most important trial result” so far, while Number 10’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said it was “tremendous news” and added: “This is a drug that can be used immediately across the world.”

For goodness sake, it’s an accepted treatment for chronic respiratory conditions, it isn’t a major breakthrough!

Results of the recovery trial, which involved 6,000 Covid19 patients, suggest the steroid can prevent death in one in eight ventilated coronavirus patients and one in 25 on breathing support. But the drug, given as either an injection or once-a-day tablet on the NHS, had no benefit for people who were hospitalised with the virus but did not require oxygen.

Health chiefs said they have imposed a ban to prevent companies from exporting the drug to other countries, in order to protect the UK's supply, and have already stockpiled 200,000 courses of the drug for British patients, after buying it ahead of the results of the trial. Could it be that the second wave is about to start pummelling down on our shores?

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Steve Harrison
Steve Harrison
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Steve Harrison

Something doesn't add up about the Covid-19 pandemic... are there reasons to be fearful for our futures?

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