SOUTH African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said Wednesday that he was ‘extremely excited’ at ‘an important breakthrough in one of the therapeutic trials for Covid-19 management’.
‘We are very pleased that the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has issued an advisory pertaining to the clinical applications of these breaking study results,’ the minister said when giving his latest update on the country’s Covid-19 statistics.
Through the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy trial backed by the British government, researchers have found that low-dose dexamethasone, a steroid treatment, reduces death in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications from Covid-19.
Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only, but there was no benefit among patients who did not require respiratory support, results showed.
Dexamethasone is extremely promising and easily implementable in South Africa, Mkhize said.
The drug, a well-known and widely used steroid which has potent anti-inflammatory properties is used to treat allergic reactions, asthma and other conditions where the inflammatory component of the disease needs to be controlled for better outcomes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has responded positively to the trial, saying it will update its clinical guidance to reflect how and when the drug should be used for the treatment of Covid-19.
‘This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement late Tuesday.
But some doctors are cautious about the drug, citing possible side effects and asking to see more data