Photo: IANS
Photo: IANS

WHO moves to update Covid-19 guidance after 'great news' in drug study

By Michael Shields And Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay Time of article published Jun 17, 2020

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The World Health Organization said

it was moving to update its guidelines on treating people

stricken with Covid-19 to reflect results of a clinical trial

that showed a cheap, common steroid can help save critically ill


Trial results announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone,

used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in diseases such as

arthritis, cut death rates by around a third among the most

severely ill Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital.

The WHO's clinical guidance for treating patients infected

with the new coronavirus is aimed at doctors and other medical

professionals and seeks to use the latest data to inform

clinicians on how best to tackle all phases of the disease, from

screening to discharge.

Although the dexamethasone study's results are preliminary,

the researchers behind the project said it suggests the drug

should immediately become standard care in severely stricken


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 benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with

Covid-19 and was not observed in patients with milder disease.

The positive news comes as coronavirus infections

accelerated in some places including the United States and as

Beijing cancelled scores of flights to help contain a fresh

outbreak in China's capital.

"This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality

in patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator

support," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said

in a statement late on Tuesday. The agency said it was looking

forward to the full data analysis of the study in coming days.

"WHO will coordinate a meta-analysis to increase our overall

understanding of this intervention. WHO clinical guidance will

be updated to reflect how and when the drug should be used in

Covid-19," the agency added.


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