Dexamethasone to 'improve' SA's management of Covid-19: Ramaphosa

'Breakthrough' drug is easily accessible as it is manufactured in the country

17 June 2020 - 21:41 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Dexamethasone has been hailed a breakthrough in Covid-19 treatment. The drug is already manufactured in SA and there is an ample supply of it here, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
Dexamethasone has been hailed a breakthrough in Covid-19 treatment. The drug is already manufactured in SA and there is an ample supply of it here, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
Image: AFP/ JUSTIN TALLIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has lauded the latest Covid-19 treatment breakthrough, which found that the drug dexamethasone can reduce deaths of patients on ventilation by a third.

Addressing the nation on Wednesday night, Ramaphosa said he was encouraged by the breakthrough, which came via a study by Oxford University this week.

The drug is manufactured in SA and is used to treat a variety of conditions in patients, including asthma and other lung diseases. Ramaphosa said there is an ample supply of the drug in the country.

Dexamethasone has been hailed as a major breakthrough in Covid-19 treatment. According to a recent trial, the low-dose steroid treatment cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those on oxygen. While the study is still awaiting peer review, some scientist have welcomed the preliminary results

“The department of health and the ministerial advisory committee has recommended that this drug can be considered for use on patients on ventilators and those on oxygen supply,” he said.

“We believe that this will improve our management of the disease among those who are severely affected.”

The latest breakthrough had also been welcomed earlier by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

“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 life-saving scientific breakthrough.”

Dexamethasone is not new. According to the WHO, it has been used since the 1960s.


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