Scientists in Britain announced a major breakthrough in the battle against the coronavirus last week, reporting they had found the first drug to reduce deaths among critically ill Covid-19 patients.
The results were first made public in a sparsely detailed news release. Now the full study, neither peer reviewed nor published yet, has been posted online, and it holds a surprise.
The drug — a cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone — does seem to help patients in dire straits, the data suggest. But it also may be risky for patients with milder illness, and the timing of the treatment is critical.
The drug “may harm some patients, and we’re not entirely sure which patients those are,” said Dr. Samuel Brown, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, who was not involved in the research.