Lifestyle Health Cheap Steroid Drug Helps to Reduce Coronavirus Deaths, 'Breakthrough' Study Finds Dexamethasone is the first drug to actually reduce coronavirus-related deaths in COVID-19 patients By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines Published on June 16, 2020 12:25 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Dexamethasone. Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty A cheap steroid drug is the first effective treatment for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, researchers have found. Dexamethasone, an inexpensive and widely-available steroid, helped save the lives of seriously-ill COVID-19 patients in a large, 6,000-person study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford. The drug helped to reduce coronavirus-related deaths in people on ventilators by one-third, and by one-fifth in people on oxygen treatments. Dexamethasone had no effect on COVID-19 patients who did not need respiratory support, the researchers said in a statement. It is the first drug that is proven to reduce the risk of death in COVID-19 patients. "This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality — and it reduces it significantly. It's a major breakthrough," Peter Horby, a professor at University of Oxford and a chief author of the study said, according to the BBC. WHO Suspends Hydroxychloroquine Trials After Reports of High Death Rates in COVID-19 Patients The researchers estimated that if dexamethasone had been used to treat oxygen-assisted COVID-19 patients in the U.K. from the start of the outbreak, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved. There has been a worldwide hunt underway to find an effective treatment for COVID-19, with other options — such as hydroxychloroquine, which was heavily touted by President Donald Trump — discarded after they were found not to work. The researchers were thrilled to find that dexamethasone was effective and inexpensive — in the U.K., the prescribed 10 doses of the steroid totals £35. “COVID-19 is a global disease — it is fantastic that the first treatment demonstrated to reduce mortality is one that is instantly available and affordable worldwide,” Martin Landray, also a professor at Oxford and a chief author of the study, said in the statement. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.