The World Health Organization has welcomed the initial clinical trial results that show a corticosteroid drug can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 8 million people worldwide.
The virus is not only lethal to global economies but also a living threat to the existence of humanity on Earth. According to Worldometers, the Chinese Virus has killed, as at the time this article was being published- 435,000 people.
The results are a part of the UK-based RECOVERY trial, one of the world’s largest randomised trial of drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. This is the same study that earlier this month showed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus.
Yesterday, Medical experts across the globe — including those who are researching hydroxychloroquine — applauded the F.D.A.’s withdrawal of the waiver after it concluded the US President Trump touted drugs’ potential benefits did not outweigh their risks.
Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication. It is used in the treatment of many conditions, including rheumatic problems, a number of skin diseases, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, brain swelling, eye pain following eye surgery, and along with antibiotics in tuberculosis.
In the trial, led by a team from Oxford University, 2,104 patients were given dexamethasone and were compared with 4,321 patients who did not receive the drug.
The drug is shown to cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and for those on oxygen, it cuts deaths by a fifth.
“This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide,” BBC quoted Chief investigator University of Oxford’s Prof Peter Horby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) 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.
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. 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 lifesaving scientific breakthrough,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
According to WHO’s Communication Officer and Fadela Chaib, the researchers only shared initial insights about the results of the trial with WHO.
“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.”
This comes after WHO Research & Development Blueprint meeting, which took place in Geneva in mid-February that aimed to accelerate health technologies for COVID-19, where further research into the use of steroids was highlighted as a priority.
WHO said it will continue to work together with all partners to further develop lifesaving therapeutics and vaccines to tackle COVID-19 including under the umbrella of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
In May, however, President Andry Rajoelina took to Twitter to say he had a successful talk with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and that the WHO will sign a confidentiality clause on the formulation of Covid Organics (CVO) – a herbal beverage Rajoelina has claimed could prevent or cure the virus – and will support clinical observations in Africa.
In a media briefing on May 14, the WHO stated that there was no scientific evidence to support the safety and efficacy of COVID-Organics. The WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said that rigorous testing would be vital for credibility.
South Africa-based virologist Denis Chopera while speaking to Voice of America’s Africa broadcast said that it was more of supplement and not a cure.
“I don’t think there’s any harm, but I don’t think people should expect that it will treat them and cure COVID-19 because that has not been proven scientifically.”
President Rajoelina slammed sceptics in an interview with France 24, claiming that more than 100 COVID-19 patients in Madagascar had already been successfully treated with COVID-Organics.
Madagascar has sent CVO to several African countries including Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Niger, Tanzania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Chad.
Half of all Covid patients who require a ventilator do not survive, so cutting that risk by a third would have a huge impact. So far, the only other drug proven to benefit COVID patients is remdesivir, which has been used for Ebola.
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