Statement on the Use of Dexamethasone for Severely ill COVID-19 Patients

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This statement aims to provide guidance and recommendation to African Union Member States.

Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is aware of the media releases of the preliminary results of a large randomized clinical trial conducted in the United Kingdom, which included dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, as one of the drugs used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The investigators reported that administration of oral or injectable dexamethasone resulted in about one-third reduction in mortality among COVID-19 patientsi that required mechanical ventilation and about one-fifth for patients requiring oxygen. Since the release of these media reports, health authorities in the United Kingdom and South Africa have adopted dexamethasone for treatment of patients with severe forms of COVID-19.ii iii The World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed the preliminary report of the study. Dexamethasone is a generic, relatively inexpensive, drug on the WHO essential medicines list and it is widely used in Africa. Africa CDC welcomes the news of this first drug candidate to improve survival for COVID-19 patients. The results of the trial are biologically plausible since reduction in inflammation is consistent with the mode of action of dexamethasone.

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