The World Health Organization on Tuesday hailed a steroid treatment for the novel coronavirus, boosting hopes that the pandemic’s mortality rate can be reduced.
Surging death tolls in the Americas and South Asia, plus a new cluster of cases in Beijing, have raised fresh doubts about how soon the world can bring COVID-19 under control.
In the latest sign of the economic toll, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the world’s biggest economy is unlikely to recover as long as there is “significant uncertainty” about the pandemic.
But news of the first proven effective treatment for COVID-19, a widely available steroid, gave cause for fresh hope.
“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 the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the drug, dexamethasone, to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, it reduced deaths by 35 percent.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said patients would start to receive the drug immediately, Daily Trust reports.
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