By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
BRITAIN has made a breakthrough with a drug for the treatment of COVID-19 and according to coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 task force the medicine is already here in The Bahamas awaiting approval to be used.
The drug, a low dose steroid, is the world’s first proven coronavirus treatment and has been approved by the British government for use by its National Health Services. The Tribune spoke with Dr Dahl-Regis, consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister, yesterday and she confirmed the medicine is here in The Bahamas awaiting an Ethics Committee approval.
“We have that medication in health (Ministry of Health),” Dr Dahl-Regis said. “We have it in country, however, it is only to be used in a hospital and following specific protocols. We are having our people look into it. It would have to go through the Ethics Committee. It’s just a matter of deciding how we are going to use it and where we are going to use it and under what conditions.”
After having success with the drug during a trial, UK experts say the treatment will now affect the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the British High Commissioner’s office said the treatment is going to save thousands of lives in the United Kingdom with its government immediately authorising the National Health Service (NHS) to use it. The drug is being touted as the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to reduce the risk of death.
The coronavirus treatment, dexamethasone, is an anti-inflammatory drug, that has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, as of Wednesday.
Dexamethasone has been proven to reduce the risk of death by as much as 35 percent in patients on ventilation and patients on oxygen by 20 percent, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17 percent in Britain.
The Oxford University UK RECOVERY trial is the first clinical trial anywhere in the world to show a treatment that provides significant impact in reducing patient mortality.
The British government has taken action to secure supplies of dexamethasone in the UK, buying additional stocks ahead of time in the event of a positive trial outcome. There is already enough treatment for over 200,000 people from stockpiles alone.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we can announce the world’s first successful clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19,” said Matt Hancock, British health secretary. “This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.
“From today (Wednesday) the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus. Guided by the science, the UK is leading the way in the global fight against coronavirus – with the best clinical trials, the best vaccine development and the best immunology research in the world.”
Mr Hancock thanked the scientists at Oxford University, the thousands of patients who took part in the study, and his team, led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.
There are 8,423,81 coronavirus cases worldwide; 4,433,246 people have recovered from the virus and 451,743 have died from it.
In The Bahamas, there are 104 confirmed cases, 74 recovered cases and 19 active cases. One person is currently in hospital and 11 people have died. So far the Bahamas government has administered 2,326 COVID-19 tests.