Covid-19 has a new opponent: Dexamethasone. Since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December 2019, Covid-19 has infected more than 9 million people, and claimed the lives of 480,000 (at the time of writing). Now, health specialists have identified an already existing drug, Dexamethasone, that can be used to fight the effects of the virus. Here’s what you need to know about Dexamethasone, the Covid-19 “miracle drug”.
What Is Dexamethasone?
Dexamethasone is a cheap, widely available, steroid drug, generally used to treat patients with asthma, allergic reactions, autoimmune disease, and brain swelling.
Recent trials of the drug in patients who have Covid-19 found that dexamethasone was able to “reduce mortality by one third in patients who required ventilatory support and by one fifth in patients who required non-invasive supplementary oxygen”.
However, the drug has no real benefits for patients who are not in need of respiratory support, and it’s not recommended for asymptomatic carriers.
Where Is Dexamethasone Manufactured?
Dexamethasone is available worldwide, and it’s currently manufactured in South Africa and Germany. South Africa’s health care minister, Zweli Mkhize, had the following to say about the drug:
“Since this announcement [of the drug being effective in treating Covid-19], we have looked into our own context and found that we are indeed in a favourable position,” Mkhize said.
“Our health care workers are very familiar with dexamethasone, having used it for decades as a registered medicine in SA. We are immediately able to offer all patients that need intravenous dexamethasone. We have checked our stock and we currently have around 300,000 ampoules in the country,” he noted.
“One of the companies manufactures the oral equivalent and supplies it all over the world and so we are able to negotiate the security of our own supply right here at home. In fact, to have a SA enterprise be a manufacturer and supplier of a critical medicine, especially one that will prove to be life-saving in the current global context, is a real departure from the norm and so South Africans can take pride in being one of the countries that will provide a solution to a global crisis,” Mkhize said.
Is Dexamethasone Really An Effective Treatment?
When we look at what we need to know about Dexamethasone, the Covid-19 “miracle drug”, we obviously need to tackle whether or not it’s actually effective. Trials have found that it reduces mortality rates in those needing respiratory support like oxygen and ventilators. So, we can be cautiously optimistic about its effectiveness at this point.
The Fight Against Covid-19 Requires Our Commitment
So, you’ve read what you need to know about Dexamethasone, the Covid-19 miracle drug, now what can you do about the spread of the pandemic? I think we all know the answer to that. Social distance, wear your masks, wash your hands, and stay at home. Together, we can curb the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and each other. However, it requires a consistent effort, and commitment from us all.