Tedros Adan Gebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that British doctors have found a drug that helps seriously ill patients cope with coronavirus. As reported on the WHO website, the tests that were conducted in Oxford showed that the steroid dexamethasone reduces mortality among patients on mechanical ventilators by 35 percent. The UK government has already approved the use of the drug to treat COVID-19.
"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. "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."
British doctors in Oxford conducted trials administering a dexamethasone steroid to more than 2100 patients daily during ten days. At the end of the period, it was revealed out that the death rate among Covid-19 patients on ventilators was lower by 35 percent. In addition, the number of infected patients receiving oxygen was lower by 20 percent.
The positive effect was recorded only among patients with a severe course of the disease. Dexamethasone can thus reduce mortality among hospitalized patients with severe respiratory complications caused by coronavirus infection by 30 percent. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty welcomed the discovery and said that it was the most important scientific achievement that has been made about the treatment of coronavirus.
On June 16, the UK government approved the use of the dexamethasone steroid to treat coronavirus. The drug has been known for over 60 years. It is commonly used as an anti-inflammatory drug and as a treatment for certain types of cancer. It has been included in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in several formulations, and is currently patented and available in most countries of the world.
The head of the Egyptian Coronavirus Scientific Committee, Hussam Hosni, said that Egyptian doctors took notice of positive effects of dexamethasone in the treatment of coronavirus symptoms before the UK announced the registration of the drug.
According to Hosni, the drug shows "high results" for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe symptoms. He added, though, that the drug can be used only at hospitals, under the supervision of doctors.
The study involves 11,500 patients from 175 British hospitals. The goal of the large-scale scientific project is to study the effectiveness of treatment methods for those infected with the novel coronavirus infected. The researchers study the effects of not only dexamethasone, but also the efficacy of the antiretroviral drug lopinavir/ritonavir, antibiotic drug azithromycin, immunosuppressant drug tocilizumab, antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, as well as transfusion of blood plasma from recovered to infected patients.
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