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Media Release

Taskforce makes recommendation for use of dexamethasone for patients receiving oxygen

03 July, 2020
Dexamethasone vial

Dexamethasone vialThe National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce today gave a conditional recommendation for use of dexamethasone for the treatment of people with COVID-19 who are receiving oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

The Taskforce is comprised of 29 peak health professional bodies whose members are caring for people with COVID-19. The conditional recommendations are as follows:

  • Consider using dexamethasone 6 mg daily intravenous or oral for up to 10 days in adults with COVID-19 who are receiving oxygen (including mechanically ventilated patients). *
  • Do not routinely use dexamethasone to treat COVID-19 in adults who do not require oxygen. *

* Interim awaiting complete results

To make this recommendation, the Taskforce reviewed results from the preprint data of the UK RECOVERY Trial. The Taskforce is continually monitoring research on disease-modifying treatments and the recommendation will be revisited when peer-reviewed data from the RECOVERY trial are made available.

Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid with a well-established pharmacological profile, that is already used to treat a range of conditions.

Taskforce Executive Director, Associate Professor Julian Elliott said dexamethasone is a significant step forward as it’s the first treatment that has been shown to reduce mortality in COVID-19.

“In the RECOVERY Trial, patients admitted to UK hospitals with COVID-19 received a short course of dexamethasone. The results showed that dexamethasone reduced risk of death by 14% in patients requiring oxygen and by 29% in ventilated patients.

“This treatment could save the lives of patients in Australia who are seriously unwell with COVID-19. Dexamethasone is an inexpensive drug that is already available in hospitals around Australia.

“The results showed no benefit for patients who did not require oxygen. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that dexamethasone prevents people from contracting COVID-19.”

The RECOVERY Trial is led by researchers at the University of Oxford in collaboration with multiple hospitals around the UK and funded by multiple partners including the UK Government.

The RECOVERY trial is comparing multiple potential treatments for COVID-19 and has so far recruited more than 11,500 patients. Of these, 2104 patients were randomised to receive a low-dose of the corticosteroid dexamethasone which was compared to 4,321 patients who did not receive it.

A first of its kind, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce was formed to provide a clear and consistent voice of cross-disciplinary consensus on the clinical care of people with COVID-19. The Taskforce delivers ‘living’ guidelines that are updated every week by eight expert panels, an expert advisory group and two working groups comprising Australia’s leading researchers and clinicians.

The latest weekly guidelines can be viewed here.