The steroid dexamethasone was shown Tuesday to be the first drug to significantly reduce the risk of death among severe COVID-19 cases, in trial results hailed as a “major breakthrough” in the fight against the disease.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the country’s patients would start to receive the drug immediately.
Hancock said the government had started stockpiling dexamethasone back in March after preliminary trials showed “early signs” of the drug’s potential.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the widely available drug to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced deaths by one third, and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only, according to preliminary results.
Normally used to treat a range of allergic reactions as well as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory.
Daily doses of the steroid could prevent one-in-eight ventilated patient deaths and save one out of every 25 patients requiring oxygen alone, the team said.
The trial, carried out by the RECOVERY research group that is searching for effective COVID-19 treatments, included a control group of 4,000 patients who did not receive the drug.
“Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19. This is an extremely welcome result,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.”
The trial results are particularly promising as around 40 per cent of COVID-19 patients who require a ventilator end up dying, often because of the body’s uncontrolled inflammatory response to the virus.
For those receiving the new treatment, the mortality rate dropped to less than 30 percent.
“This is a major breakthrough: dexamethasone is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for COVID-19,” said Nick Cammack, COVID-19 therapeutics accelerator lead at the Wellcome Trust health charity.
“Potentially preventing one death in every eight ventilated patients would be remarkable.”
Covid-19: Nigeria records 288 new cases, toll now 44,129
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 288 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infection to 44,129.
The NCDC made this known via its verified Twitter handle on Monday.
“On the 3rd of August 2020, 288 new confirmed cases and 8 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
“Till date, 44129 cases have been confirmed, 20663 cases have been discharged and 896 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The 288 new cases are reported from 15 states- Lagos (88), Kwara (33), Osun (27), FCT (25), Enugu (25), Abia (20), Kaduna (17), Plateau (13), Rivers (13), Delta (10), Gombe (8), Ogun (4), Oyo (3), Katsina (1), Bauchi (1),” the NCDC said.
Positive cases drop by 2,000 in July – FG
Nigeria recorded less than 2,000 positive cases in July, the Federal Government has disclosed.
It further stated the number of testing carried out across the country increased by 40,000 in just one month.
A total of 287,532 COVID-19 tests have been carried out so far in Nigeria.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made these known during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He also said the Federal Government plans to reduce the deaths from the pandemic to less than one per cent.
The Federal Government also plans to expand sample collection to rural areas by setting set up at least one COVID-19 sample collection site in every Local Government Area (LGA) with designated holding rooms at General hospitals for patients with significant clinical symptoms.
Ehanire said this will ensure patients are not turned back at hospitals.
The Minister asked health workers not to fret on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
“As we are reasonably well stocked with materials and commodities, which have been supplied to all sections of the country.”
COVID-19 vaccines now in phase three clinical trials –WHO
The World Health Organisation says a number of potential vaccines that may be deployed in the treatment of COVID-19 are now in phase three clinical trials.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, disclosed this at a virtual conference on Monday.
“A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.
“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be. For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control,” he said.
Ghebreyesus, therefore, urged countries and international partners to focus more on testing, isolating and treating COVID-19 patients as well as tracing and quarantining their contacts.
“The message to people and governments is clear: do it all. For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all,” he appealed.
Last Friday, the Ethiopian met with the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 to review the current pandemic.
It was a sobering moment coming six months from when the Committee advised, that the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The WHO boss noted that as at the time (30 January), there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China.
“Since then, the number of cases has increased more than fivefold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled, to 680,000.
“In addition to the direct toll COVID-19 is having, the Committee noted the health impact that disrupted services are having on a range of other diseases.
“That compounds what we already know about reduced immunisation coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services. On top of the health impact, we have seen the damage COVID-19 has caused socially, economically and politically,” he noted.
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