COVID-19: WHO endorses UK’s trial drug


The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed delight with outcome
of the initial clinical trial of dexamethasone, a new drug from United
Kingdom (UK) for the treatment of COVID-19.

A statement obtained by AfricaSTI from the agency’s website, Tuesday,
showed that dexamethasome, a corticosteroid, is capable of saving
patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 from deaths.

For patients on ventilators, WHO noted that treatment was shown to
reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only
oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, citing preliminary
findings shared with it by the UK.

WHO however noted that the benefit of the drug 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.

He added: “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

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 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

“Today’s news builds off the WHO Research & Development Blueprint
meeting, which took place in Geneva in mid-February to accelerate
health technologies for COVID-19, where further research into the use
of steroids was highlighted as a priority. The findings reinforce the
importance of large randomized control trials that produce actionable
evidence. WHO 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,” WHO stated.


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