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Dexamethasone should be used for critical cases: WHO

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Geneva, June 22: The World Health Organisation on Monday emphasised that dexamethasone should only be used for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 under close clinical supervision.

There is no evidence that the drug works for patients with mild disease or as a preventative measure, and it could cause harm, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered dexamethasone to more than 2,000 severely ill patients hospitalised with the new coronavirus.

Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, it reduced deaths by 35 percent.

"Although the data are still preliminary, the recent finding that the steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19 patients gave us a much-needed reason to celebrate," Tedros said.

"The next challenge is to increase production and rapidly and equitably distribute dexamethasone worldwide, focusing on where it is needed most.

Demand has already surged, following the UK trial results showing dexamethasone's clear benefit.

"Fortunately, this is an inexpensive medicine and there are many dexamethasone manufacturers worldwide, who we are confident can accelerate production."

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A low-dose steroid, dexamethasone has been on the market for over 60 years and usually serves to reduce inflammation.

The world recorded more than 183,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the most in a single day since the outbreak started, Tedros said.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has topped nine million, according to an AFP tally.

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