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COVID-19 drug breakthrough as number of cases increase

 As the number of COVID-19 cases increase to 76 334, the Health Department says it is pleased about the results of the affordable life-saving drug used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The Recovery Trial, based at Oxford University, published results on the therapeutic merits of low dose dexamethasone, which are extremely promising, the Health Department said.

According to Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the drugs are also “easily implementable” in South Africa.

“Dexamethasone is a well-known and widely used steroid, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties.

“It is used in allergic reactions, asthma and other conditions where the inflammatory component of the disease needs to be controlled for better outcomes,” said Mkhize.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has welcomed the initial clinical trial and said they are looking forward to the full data analysis in the coming days.

“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,” according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.

The agency said the benefit is only visible in seriously ill COVID-19 patients and not those with milder disease.

“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support.

“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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Meanwhile, SA recorded 57 more COVID-19 related deaths, of which 44 are from the Western Cape, nine from the Eastern Cape and four from KwaZulu-Natal, bringing the total death toll to 1 625.

The Western Cape, with the highest infection rate, has 45 357 cases, followed by Gauteng with 13 032, the Eastern Cape with 11 039 and KwaZulu-Natal with 4 048.

The North West has 1 281, Free State 578, Limpopo 391, Mpumalanga 343, Northern Cape 211 and 63 are still unallocated. – SAnews.gov.za

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