Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has approved the use of the steroid dexamethasone as part of its treatment protocol for COVID-19 patients, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
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The drug will be administered to patients who need oxygen in hospitals and in the intensive care units, according to SPA.
Dexamenthasone has been used to treat inflammation in diseases such as arthritis since the 1960s and a recently published study by UK researchers showed it reduces the chances of death for COVID-19 patients who are on ventilators by 35 percent. For COVID-19 patients on oxygen, but not on ventilators, it was shown to reduce mortality by about 20 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday it would be updating its clinical guidelines on COVID-19 treatment to include the results of the preliminary trial conducted by University of Oxford researchers.
Britain also announced Wednesday it increased the amount of dexamethasone it has in stock and on order to 240,000 doses, according to health minister Matt Hancock.
“It’s the first time that anyone in the world has clinically proven that a drug can improve the survival chances of the most seriously ill coronavirus patients,” Hancock told parliament.
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry continuously updates its therapeutic protocol for COVID-19 patients by adding any drugs that have had a positive impact on patients. SPA reported that specialists in the ministry also follow up on all research published from around the world.
The Kingdom has so far confirmed 141,234 coronavirus cases with 91,662 having recovered so far. The death toll has reached 1,091 as of June 17.