NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics on who’s most likely to die from COVID-19, while British doctors announced an important development that could save many lives.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has more in his latest Max Minute report.

While the COVID-19  pandemic continues to spread, especially in the West and South, researchers are steadily learning more about the coronavirus and how to treat the disease that it causes.

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Scientists at the University of Oxford announced Tuesday that a low-cost steroid could significantly reduce deaths for hospitalized patients.

The steroid dexamethasone reduced deaths by a third in patients on ventilators, while patients who were only receiving oxygen treatment saw a 20% reduction in mortality. There was no benefit from the drug in patients who did not need respiratory support.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Dexamethasone is the first drug proven to improve survival in COVID-19, according to a chief investigator. It is inexpensive, approved worldwide, and the survival benefit is clear and large enough that British doctors have already made it the standard of care for COVID-19 patients on oxygen.

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There are disturbing numbers now in the U.S. While it has been known that people with underlying health conditions were most likely to become seriously ill from coronavirus, the CDC reports hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths 12 times higher among those with underlying conditions, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic lung conditions.

It’s not clear how dexamethasone works, but it is a powerful anti-inflammatory that could be tamping down the massive immune over-reaction in the lungs of COVID-19 patients. It may be even more effective when combined with an anti-viral drugs such as remdesivir.

For the top questions people have been asking about the coronavirus, visit cbsnewyork.com/max, and go to facebook.com/cbsnewyork to submit your question.

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