COVID-19 drug breakthrough as number of cases increase

Dr Zweli Mkhize: GCIS

 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. –

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