South Africa has “excellent local capacity” to administer the drug dexamethasone to Covid-19 patients who are seriously ill, says Dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize said in a statement on Friday night that health professionals in the country are well versed in the drug and have been using it as a registered medicine for decades.
“We are able to offer it immediately to all patients who need intravenous dexamethasone. We checked our inventory and currently have about 300,000 ampoules in the country. ”
The ministerial Covid-19 Advisory Committee has already recommended the use of dexamethasone or equivalent steroids such as hydrocortisone or prednisolone for all Covid-19 patients on ventilators or oxygen therapy.
This medicine is not recommended for asymptomatic people or patients who do not need supplemental oxygen.
It is an anti-inflammatory drug known for use with asthma, allergic reaction, autoimmune disease and brain swelling.
In a trial in Britain, dexamethasone was found to reduce deaths by a third among those requiring ventilators and by a fifth among patients requiring supplemental oxygen, the statement said.
Mkhize says this is a significant breakthrough and the study has produced reliable results as it involved as many as 6,425 participants.