The Centre on Saturday (June 27) said steroid drug dexamethasone can be used as an alternative to methylprednisolone for the treatment of moderate and severe COVID-19 cases. It is the first coronavirus treatment in the world proven to reduce the death risk among severely ill patients.
The Union health ministry has issued a revised ‘Clinical Management Protocol: COVID-19’, which includes the advice to use the drug as an alternative to methylprednisolone. “The change has been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation,” it said.
British scientists claim the drug has been proven to reduce the risk of death significantly in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by 35 per cent and those on oxygen by 20 per cent. Even the World Health Organization had called for rapid production of the steroid, reports said.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects, the health ministry said. The drug is also a part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and is widely available, it added.
“The drug has been tested in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the RECOVERY clinical trial and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients and has been shown to reduce mortality by about one third for patients on ventilators, and by about one fifth for patients being maintained on oxygen therapy,” the government said in a press release.
The total number of COVID-19 cases crossed the five lakh-mark on Saturday, while the death toll due to the infection stood at 15,685, according to the Union health ministry. Currently, there are 1,97,387 active cases in the country, while 2,95,880 have been discharged.