The Health Secretary told the Commons that the drug has been proven to reduce the deadliness of Covid-19, hailing it as an “important moment” in the fight against coronavirus.
It is a cheap and widely available drug that cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators, a study has found. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
He told MPs: “This is an important moment in the fight against this virus.
“It’s the first time that anyone in the world has clinically proven that a drug can improve the survival chances for the most seriously ill coronavirus patients.”
Mr Hancock said there are currently 240,000 doses “in stock and on order.” He said it means the drug is “immediately available and already in use on the NHS”.
He said: “It is not by any means a cure but it is the best news we have had.”
Speaking in the Commons, he added: “Seven other drugs are currently being trialled as part of the Recovery Trial and a further nine further drugs are in live clinical trials as part of the Accord Programme which is looking at early-stage treatments.”
Mr Hancock said 592,204 people as of Tuesday have now had an antibody test on the NHS.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth responded: “First of all, can I welcome the news from the secretary of state about dexamethasone. This is, as he said, an important moment, it is good news. I want to congratulate all involved and it is a reminder that we can be immensely proud of our science base in this country.
“We know a vaccine is absolutely crucial, I hope he will join with me, as I’m sure he will, in saying that when a vaccine is available we must have no truck with those who spread poisonous anti-vacc propaganda on social media because vaccinations save lives and, ultimately, it will be exit strategy from this dreadful, horrific disease.”
A course of the drugs involves a six milligram dose, once a day, which can either be given by mouth or by injection.