British scientists have found that dexamethasone is able to stop people dying from Covid-19.
The drug has reduced death risk for patients in ventilators by one-third and oxygen by one fifth.
The drug, which is cheap and widely available can help save the lives of patients seriously ill with COVID-19.
The drug will be rolled out on the NHS from tomorrow.
The Breakthrough research has shown that dexamethasone, a common steroid given to coronavirus patients could have saved between 4,000 and 5,000 lives in the UK.
A third fewer patients on ventilators died when given dexamethasone compared to those given standard NHS care.
Leading scientists running the RECOVERY trial say the £6 drug will now become the standard of care for all
Covid-19 patients on oxygen in hospitals.
Chief investigator Peter Horby, of Oxford University, said: “This is the only drug that has so far been shown to decrease mortality, and it reduced it significantly.
“It is a major breakthrough.”
The clinical trial gave 2,100 Covid-19 patients a low dose of dexamethasone while a further 4,300 patients were given standard NHS care.
Among patients who received usual care alone, those on ventilation saw 41% dead within 28 days.
In those who received oxygen but were not placed in ventilators – the same treatment PM Boris Johnson received – the mortality rate was 25%.
By comparison 13% of hospitalised Covid-19 patients died in the 28 day period.
Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in non-ventilated patients receiving oxygen. It had no benefit in those not needing respiratory support.
It is thought to drastically reduce inflammation in the lungs that proves fatal in some patients who rapidly deteriorate after a about seven days of symptoms.
Deputy chief investigator Prof Martin Landray, of Oxford University, said: “It is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide.
“Since the advent of this disease in the last six months the search has been on that actually reduces the risk of dying.
There hasn’t been one until today. The results are sufficiently clear that we can announce the results today and people can be treated this evening.“That’s a major, major step forward. This is globally applicable.”
Until now drugs have only been shown to reduce symptoms but had no impact on how many patients died.
The RECOVERY trial has enrolled 11,500 Covid-19 patients at 175 NHS hospitals to trial existing drugs known to be safe.
The practice changing results were rushed out via an online media briefing on Wednesday after investigators worked through the weekend to analyse their findings.
Investigators said it could be made available as cheap as 80p per dose in parts of the developing world such as India
UK experts claim that the low-dose steroid treatment which was tested between March and June is a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease.
According to BBC, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a genuine case to celebrate “a remarkable British scientific achievement.
He, therefore, added that the government has taken steps to ensure enough supplies.
Currently, there are 8,194,790 confirmed coronavirus cases and 443,231 deaths worldwide.