The World Health Organisation, WHO said it has approved the use of steroid dexamethasone the treat critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
The agency said the decision is a result of a research that the drug possesses a life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19.
WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said in a virtual briefing that “the data on it is still preliminary,” the recent finding has given the world a much-needed reason to celebrate.
He said demand has already surged, following the UK trial results showing “dexamethasone’s clear benefit”.
However, Ghebreyesus, cautioned that there is no evidence that dexamethasone works for patients who are only mildly affected, or as a preventative measure.
WHO said dexamethasone “should only be used for patients with the severe or critical disease, under close clinical supervision.”
“There is no evidence this drug works for patients with mild disease or as a preventative measure, and it could cause harm.
“Fortunately, this is an inexpensive medicine and there are many dexamethasone manufacturers worldwide, who we are confident can accelerate production,” he said.
The Oxford University researchers, Peter Horby and Martin Landray, who conducted the treatment experiments as part of the large recovery trial, said “steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill patients.”.
In order to effectively combat the virus, Mr Ghebreyesus said countries must be guided by solidarity and work together to ensure supplies are prioritised for countries where there are large numbers of critically ill patients.
He said there is a need for supplies to remain available to treat other diseases for which it is needed.
The WHO chief noted that the steroid was already being produced by many manufacturers globally, and should be made available at an ‘inexpensive’ cost.
“Transparency and constant monitoring will be key to ensuring needs dictate supplies, rather than means.
He said it is also important to check that suppliers can guarantee quality, as there is a high risk of substandard or falsified products entering the market.