What you need to know about Dexamethasone, the £5 drug that offers hope for Africa amid spikes in coronavirus infections
London, June 17, 2020 (AltAfrica)-As African nations grapple with spiking cases and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, a commonly available drug appeared Tuesday to offer hope that the most seriously ill could have a better chance of survival.
The pandemic has forced countries to impose lockdowns and tough restrictions on daily life and travel, but infections have surged as they eased these rules and reopened their economies. With no vaccine available and much still unknown about the virus, researchers in England announced the first drug shown to save lives.
The drug, called dexamethasone, reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen, researchers in England said. It did not appear to help less ill patients
There are now more than 251,408 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent, number of deaths is 6,763 , recoveries put at 114,212 and active cases stand at 130,433. A number of African countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic
With the World Health Organization, WHO predicting that eighty-three thousand to 190 000 people in Africa could die of COVID-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, dexamethasone could be the biggest saving grace for Africa
This is what you should know about the widely available drug that is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save the lives of severely ill patients suffering from coronavirus:
The steroid dexamethasone has been found to reduce the risk of dying of coronavirus for critically ill patients, according to trial results.
It is the first and only drug that has made a significant difference to patient mortality for Covid-19.
The drug was administered to more than 2 000 severely ill patients in the UK.
It reduced deaths by 35 percent among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator; and by one-fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.
The trial showed dexamethasone to be ineffective in treating patients with milder forms of the novel coronavirus.
Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory.
In a pill form, this medication is available in a variety of tablet sizes.
Dexamethasone may also be given by infusion into a vein.
It is normally used to treat a range of allergic reactions as well as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Common side effects of taking Dexamethasone include increased appetite, irritability, insomnia, fluid retention, muscle weakness and increased blood sugar levels.
Dexamethasone also go by trade names such as Decadron, Dexasone, Diodex, Hexadrol, Maxidex.
“It’s on almost every pharmacy shelf in every hospital, it’s available throughout the world, and it’s very cheap,” said Peter Horby of Oxford University, one of the leaders of the trial that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care.