Tim Harford Columnist

While the world celebrated the discovery that the steroid dexamethasone was an effective treatment for Covid-19 patients on ventilators, my physician friend was unimpressed. It was obvious that dexamethasone would work, she opined; intensive care units should have been using it as a matter of course.

Perhaps. But that is what doctors thought about the use of similar steroids to treat patients with head injuries. Logically, steroids would be so effective that a clinical trial seemed unethical. Overcoming these objections, the corticosteroid randomisation after head injury trial put the steroids to the test — only to discover that, far from being lifesavers, they raised the risk of death...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now