KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today advised the public not to consume dexamethasone to treat Covid-19 without a doctors’ prescription.
A dexamethasone trial, led by a team from Oxford University, found that the low-dose steroid treatment saves the lives of seriously sick Covid-19 patients.
The world’s largest clinical trial on coronavirus treatments showed that dexamethasone reduces the risk of death by one-third for Covid-19 patients on ventilators, and cuts death rates by one-fifth for those requiring oxygen.
The study researchers also reportedly claimed that up to 5,000 lives could have been saved had the drug been used to treat patients in the UK from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the findings from this breakthrough study is a huge benefit for poorer countries with high numbers of Covid-19 patients.
However, Dr Noor Hisham also stated today that this study found dexamethasone did not aid in the treatment of Covid-19 patients who had only mild symptoms or who did not need breathing assistance.
“The results of this scientific discovery are important in the development of Covid-19,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) would like to thank the United Kingdom, University of Oxford, and all the members who were involved in this clinical trial.
“However, MOH urges the public not to abuse or take dexamethasone without a doctor’s prescription. This is because the drug also has side effects and is required to be balanced by using other medicines for certain diseases,” he added.
Dexamethasone has been used since the early 1960s as an anti-inflammatory drug in a variety of other conditions, including arthritis, asthma, and some skin diseases, but it also appears to be helpful in halting some of the damage that can occur when one’s immune system goes haywire in an immune system overreaction, termed a cytokine storm, that can be deadly while trying to fight off the novel coronavirus.