ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza has said a technical team will consider using dexamethasone medicine to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.
In a tweet, the special assistant pointed out the World Health Organisation (WHO) has welcomed the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom showed that dexamethasone can be lifesaving for patients who are critically-ill with COVID-19.
Dr Zafar Mirza said it is an old and cheap anti-inflammatory medicine (steroid) and there are multiple producers in Pakistan. The special assistant, however, warned that dexamethasone is only for critically ill COVID-19 patients who are on oxygen support and ventilators.
He said the medicine must not be used by mild to moderate patients and that self-medication is strictly prohibited and can be dangerous as the medicine has many side-effects.
This comes after researchers in the United Kingdom claimed to found the first life-saving drug for critically-ill coronavirus patients.
According to the trial data, giving low doses of the generic steroid drug dexamethasone to COVID-19 patients reduced death rates by around a third among those with the most severe cases of infection.
The UK researches suggest that the drug should immediately become standard care in patients treated in hospital with the pandemic disease.
Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only. There was no benefit among those patients who did not require respiratory support. The drug is already used to reduce inflammation in a range of other conditions.
Oxford University professor, Martin Landray said, “This is a result that shows that if patients who have Covid-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost.”
His co-lead investigator, Peter Horby, said dexamethasone is “the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly. It is a major breakthrough.”
There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, which has killed more than 431,000 around the globe.