WHO welcomes 'breakthrough' UK study on severe COVID-19 treatment

WHO welcomes 'breakthrough' UK study on severe COVID-19 treatment

The World Health Organization welcomes 'breakthrough' results of initial clinical trials in the United Kingdom, showing that dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can save lives of patients who are critically ill with COVID-19, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said in a statement.

"This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support," the statement cited WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying. "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."

According to preliminary findings shared with WHO, for patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth.

The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.

Prof Peter Horby, who leads the research, said dexamethasone had become the first medicine that demonstrated the ability to reduce COVID-19 mortality. In his opinion, the medicine should be immediately included into novel coronavirus treatment protocols worldwide.