You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

WHO moves to update COVID-19 guidance after "great news" in drug study

Reuters logo Reuters 6/17/2020
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wears a protective fave mask after leaving a ceremony for the restarting of Geneva's landmark fountain, known as "Jet d'Eau" following the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus on June 11, 2020 in Geneva. - The fountain was switched off on March 20, 2020, as the Swiss government further tightened measures against COVID-19. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images) © Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wears a protective fave mask after leaving a ceremony for the restarting of Geneva's landmark fountain, known as "Jet d'Eau" following the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus on June 11, 2020 in Geneva. - The fountain was switched off on March 20, 2020, as the Swiss government further tightened measures against COVID-19. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

(Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) 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 patients.

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 patients.



Video: Researchers say common steroid can reduce deaths in sickest COVID-19 patients (NBC News)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

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.

But South Korea's top health official cautioned about the use of the drug for COVID-19 patients.

"(It) has already long been used in South Korean hospitals to treat patients with different inflammation," Jeong Eun-kyeong, head of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

"But some experts have warned of the drug not only reducing the inflammatory response in patients, but also the immune system and may trigger side effects. KCDC is discussing the use of it for COVID-19 patients."

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay, writing by John Miller; Additional reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Michael Perry and Giles Elgood)

AdChoices
AdChoices

View the full site

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon