A DRUG that has been hailed in Britain as a breakthrough in treating seriously ill coronavirus patients has been used for a long time in hospitals across the Valencian Community.

Dexamethasone is said to reduce COVID-19 death rates by up to a third, and also has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive.

The NHS in the UK says that it has 200,000 doses of the drug, but it has been prescribed for many years for a variety of treatments in Valencian hospitals – including as a life-saver during the current pandemic.

Dexamethasone helps to reduce lung inflammation especially after patients with COVID-19 suffer a bout of pneumonia.

The drug also boosts their immune system.

Experts have stressed the drug does not act against the virus, but reduces the chance of dying from it in serious cases.

It’s widely available in the Valencian Community health service and is frequently used to treat autoimmune diseases.

Professor Salvador Máñez of Valencia University´s pharmacology department said:

“The drug has been prescribed by chemists and has been part of hospital procedures for decades.”

It comes as the NHS has approved the steriod after a clinical trial found it reduced the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 35%.

Study leader Professor Peter Horby, from Oxford, said a life could be saved with every eight patients.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday praised the drug, which has become the first medicine proven to reduce the death rate among hospitalised patients.

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