Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has announced that it will allow clinicians add dexamethasone, a potential treatment for the virus recently discovered by United Kingdom researchers, to their treatment regimen for trial.
Described as a life-saving breakthrough by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the drug – dexamethasone – has proven to significantly reduce deaths due to COVID-19, especially among critically ill patients requiring oxygen or ventilator support.
Speaking during the daily briefing of the Task Force in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said;
I did mention that there is a medicine that we are going to ask our clinicians to try. It is not a medicine that you should be using but a medicine that the doctor is to use.
Luckily this medicine is not new and it is well-known to be used for other purposes as a steroid. It was found to be useful in this case. It is easy to try it out because we know the side effects. Also, the usual dosage is well-known and it is not a medicine that is terribly expensive or unavailable.
We are going to ask our clinicians to also consider adding it for their trials and see what results it works in our own circumstances for this particular problem.
According to preliminary findings, the treatment helped patients on ventilators 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.
WHO has said there would be more research about the dexamethasone drug to further discover its potentials.