File photo Photograph:( Reuters )
For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth
World Health Organization(WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated the "UK government, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough" after initial results showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, could be used as a life saving drug for patients who are critically ill with coronavirus.
WHO said Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers.
"It has been listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in multiple formulations," it added.
The UN health body said that researchers shared initial insights about dexamethasone results of the trial with WHO, and it will look at the full data analysis in the coming days.
For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.
Meanwhile, the British government said it would administer the drug to seriously ill COVID-19 patients immediately.
The University of Oxford researchers had administered the steroid dexamethasone to over 2,000 severely ill coronavirus patients during the trial.
The breakthrough comes amid reports of a second wave in Beijing and the United States with millions still infected with the virus globally.
The virus has already claimed 436,813 lives and infected over 8 million people worldwide with Latin America becoming the latest hotspot even as the death toll in the US continues to climb.