COVID-19 treatment found, WHO welcomes trial results
The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom (UK) that show ‘dexamethasone’, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.
However, the benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.
“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Had the drug had been used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic, up to 5,000 lives could have been saved, researchers say as BBC quoted.
Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers. It has been listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in multiple formulations, and is currently off-patent and affordably available in most countries.
The low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus, UK experts say.
The drug is part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments to see if they also work for coronavirus. It cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.
However, Dexamethasone does not appear to help people with milder symptoms of coronavirus who do not need help with their breathing.
The Recovery Trial, running since March, also looked at the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has subsequently been ditched amid concerns it increases fatalities and heart problems.
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