COVID-19 drug breakthrough as number of cases increase




As the number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa continues to increase, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says he is pleased with the results of the affordable life-saving drug used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The Recovery Trial, which is taking place at Oxford University in the UK, published the results of the beneficial qualities of low dose dexamethasone, which are extremely promising, the Health Department said.

Mkhize says that the medication is also “easily implementable” in South Africa.

Dexamethasone, which is a widely-used steroid that has been used since the 1960s, is a popular anti-inflammatory medication used to relieve inflammation in various parts of the body. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has welcomed the initial clinical trial and said they are looking forward to the full data analysis in the coming days.

“This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Furthermore, preliminary findings shared with WHO shows that Dexamethasone can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 - the treatment has proven effective in reducing Covid-19 mortality rates by around one fifth for patients who require assistance with breathing. 

The WHO did, however, say that the benefit is only visible in seriously ill COVID-19 patients and not those with a milder case of the disease as they are generally capable of self-medicating at home.

This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support.

“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,” said Dr Adhanom 

To date, South Africa has recorded an additional 57 COVID-19 related deaths, 44 of which are from the Western Cape, 9 from the Eastern Cape and 4 from KwaZulu-Natal - this brings the country's death toll to 1 625.

The Western Cape, with the highest infection rate, has 45 357 cases, followed by Gauteng with 13 032, the Eastern Cape with 11 039 and KwaZulu-Natal with 4 048.