LONDON - Giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to patients admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection, trial data showed on Tuesday.England's Chief Medical Officer has hailed a finding as the most important trial result so far, as scientists seek effective treatments for the new disease. "This is the most important trial result for COVID-19 so far," Chris Whitty said on Twitter about the findings of the UK-led clinical trial known as RECOVERY."Significant reduction in mortality in those requiring oxygen or ventilation from a widely available, safe and well known drug... It will save lives around the world."The results, described as a "major breakthrough" by scientists leading RECOVERY, suggest the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease, the researchers said."This is a result that shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost," said Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the trial.His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone - a generic steroid widely used in other diseases to reduce inflammation - is "the only drug that's so far shown to reduce mortality - and it reduces it significantly.""It is a major breakthrough," he said.There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus which has killed more than 431,000 globally.