Dexamethasone: A Breakthrough in Treatment of Coronavirus after World Crosses 8 million Mark
The World Health Organization on Tuesday hailed a “breakthrough” steroid treatment for the coronavirus, boosting hopes that pandemic deaths can be reduced.
Surging death tolls in the Americas and South Asia has raised fresh doubts about how soon the world can bring COVID-19 under control.
In the latest sign of the economic toll, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the world’s biggest economy is unlikely to recover as long as there is “significant uncertainty” about the pandemic.
But news of the first proven effective treatment for COVID-19, a widely available steroid, gave fresh hope.
“This is great news. I praise the Government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the various hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific discovery,” announced the leader of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered the drug, dexamethasone, to more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients.
Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, it reduced deaths by 35 percent.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide,” said Peter Horby, professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated patients would begin to get the drug quickly.
Just one week after the number of recorded coronavirus cases globally hit seven million, that figure exceeded the eight-million mark Monday.
It’s the quickest pace that a million fresh cases have been reported since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, according to public health data tracked and collected by Johns Hopkins University.
As of Tuesday evening, cases stood at over 8.1 million, with more than 440,000 deaths.
The data shows that it took just over a week for cases to jump from six million to seven million. That six-million mark was reached ten days after the world surpassed five million infections.
The quick surge in cases implies that while some nations have seized hold of their outbreaks, others — especially in the Americas and parts of Asia — are only becoming worse.
China, which had brought mainly its outbreak under control, reported another 31 new infections in Beijing, bringing the total from a fresh cluster linked to a wholesale food market to 137 in six days. The capital’s airports canceled at least 1,255 flights Wednesday, nearly 70 percent of all services, state media reported. The new outbreak has led authorities to implement mass testing, put neighborhoods on lockdown, close schools, and urge residents not to leave the city.
And in India, the world’s second-most populous country, saw its COVID-19 death toll shoot up by more than 2,000 to nearly 12,000 fatalities.
Brazil, which has the second-highest caseload and death toll in the world, reported its most significant daily jump in new cases since the start of the pandemic: 34,918.
Peru has also viewed its cases mount, and is now the eighth-most infected country with approximately 230,000 cases. Peru’s death toll climbed past 7,000.
Mexico continues to beat its records in daily case counts and deaths and is approaching 150,000 cases.
And the United States, the hardest-hit country, passed a grim milestone: with 116,854 deaths, the country has now seen more people die from the pandemic than in World War I.
Beyond the Americas, Iran and Saudi Arabia have all reported sharp increases in deaths and infections in recent days.
After recording between 8,000 and 9,000 new cases a day for nearly a month, Russia has recently hit half a million cases and continues to climb. Its death toll, at just over 7,000, remains one of the lowest in the world, even though some health officials have admitted that they record that data differently from other countries.
Australia and New Zealand have voiced optimism that some semblance of healthy life could return this summer, after reporting little to no new infections for weeks.
European nations, including Belgium, France, Germany, and Greece, have begun lifting border restrictions, hoping to save the summer tourism season.
But life is still far from normal.