WHO: Dexamethasone should only be used on severely ill Covid-19 patients

Geneva, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization on Wednesday said the steroid dexamethasone should only be used on seriously ill Covid-19 patients and should not be regarded as a pharmaceutical that can help prevent the disease.

An Oxford University report published Tuesday found that the cheap and widely available steroid was able to cut the mortality rate of patients on ventilation by one third, meaning it could potentially save the lives of one in every eight gravely ill Covid-19 suffers.

“It cannot be said strongly enough, this drug is purely for use under close clinical supervision. It is meant and has only been shown so far to be useful in the treatment of severely ill people with Covid-19,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, told a press conference.

“It is one but of the many breakthroughs we’re going to need in order to effectively deal with Covid-19. And as such we should celebrate that today.

“It’s very significant but we also have to see the full data.”

“This is not the time to rush to change clinical practice in a too-rushed fashion.”

He said that dexamethasone could not be used as a treatment in and of itself, but rather facilitated oxygen circulation in patients on ventilation or other forms of respiratory intervention.

He said further research was needed in order to establish the proper dosage and administration of the steroid.

The Oxford University report said a total of 2,104 randomly selected patients were chosen for the steroid trial and that each was given a daily dose of 6mg of dexamethasone, which is widely used as an anti-inflammatory drug, for 10 days. The results were then compared with 4,321 patients receiving the usual care administered for Covid-19.

The 28-day mortality rates observed in patients not receiving the steroid were 41 percent in those on ventilation, 25 percent in those requiring oxygen but not ventilation and 13 percent in those not requiring respiratory intervention.

Researchers found that dexamethasone reduced deaths in patients on ventilation by a third and those on oxygen by a fifth. There was no benefit for those with no breathing apparatus.

“Based on these results, 1 death would be prevented by treatment of around 8 ventilated patients or around 25 patients requiring oxygen alone,” the report said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, also expressed his congratulations to the Oxford University team.EFE-EPA


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