Johannesburg – A cheap steroid, which is available in South Africa from R149 an injection, has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment to reduce fatalities among severely ill Covid-19 patients.
In a statement by the University of Oxford on Tuesday, it said Dexamethasone has been proven to have reduced deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators. The drug reduced fatalities by a fifth among those who received oxygen support.
Over 11,500 patients in 175 hospitals in the UK are part of the trial, and more than 2,100 of them were given 6mg of dexamethasone once a day.
The drug has been hailed as the ‘biggest breakthrough yet’ in the UK’s coronavirus fight by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It’s a startling result,” said Kenneth Baillie, an intensive-care physician at the Unversity of Edinburgh, who also serves on the steering committee of the trial. “It will clearly have a massive global impact,” he added.
The dexamethasone drug is regulated to sell between R149 and R176 in South Africa and is typically used for the treatment of arthritis and breathing disorders.
Dexamethasone is produced by South African pharmaceutical giant Aspen, and the company’s CEO Stephen Saad confirmed that there should be enough supplies to meet local demand.
“It all depends on where and when we get the surges. We should be fine for South Africa, (as) we make this in South Africa,” said Saad.