The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Wednesday, endorsed dexamethasone as ‘cure’ drug for saving lives of critically ill coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients. Dexamethasone is a breakthrough in the global race to discover a safe and effective drug for treatment and prevention of the disease.
The WHO welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom (UK) that showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be life-saving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
According to preliminary findings shared with WHO, 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. The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19 and was not observed in patients with milder disease.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support.
“This is great news and I congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this life-saving scientific breakthrough.”
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 global health body, in a statement, yesterday, said: “The researchers shared initial insights about the results of the trial with WHO, and we are looking forward to the full data analysis in the coming days. WHO will coordinate a meta-analysis to increase our overall understanding of this intervention. WHO clinical guidance will be updated to reflect how and when the drug should be used in COVID-19.”
The endorsement of dexamethasone came yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria was ready to support any joint action plan at regional and global levels to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout.