Researchers are reporting some progress in their search for drugs that tamp down the overwhelming immune reaction that can kill a patient with COVID-19.

These reactions are triggered by coronavirus infections and can veer out of control in some people. It’s this reaction, rather than the virus itself, that is the real peril for people seriously ill with COVID-19.

Doctors last year recognized that a cheap and readily available steroid drug called dexamethasone can often rein in this overreaction, which is a form of inflammation. In fact, it’s the only COVID-19 drug so far that clearly saves lives.

“Dexamethasone is a really powerful anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Rajesh Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, but, “there are still people who need more….”

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