An expert committee on coronavirus in Pakistan will consider using the steroid drug dexamethasone on those severely ill with COVID-19, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said on Wednesday.
Dexamethasone, a widely available anti-inflammtory drug, has been found to reduce deaths in critical COVID-19 patients in a major breakthrough on Tuesday.
After the announcement by Oxford University, the World Health Organisation said it welcomes the preliminary results of the trial.
“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.
“This is great news and I congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough.”
In his tweet, Dr Mirza said dexamethasone is an old and cheap anti-inflammatory medicine with several manufacturers in Pakistan.
However, he added: “It is only for critically ill COVID-19 patients ie those on oxygen and ventilators. The medicine must not be used by mild to moderate patients.”
Self-medication is strictly prohibited and can be dangerous due to its side effects, the PM’s aide warned.
Some of dexamethasone’s serious side effects include blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, swelling, an increase in blood sugar levels and anaphylactic shock.