The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that an inexpensive steroid should be booked that could help save the lives of patients with severe Covid-19 in severe cases that have been shown to provide benefits.
WHO Director Tidros Adhanom Gebresos said the research had finally provided "green signs of hope" in treating the virus that has killed more than 400,000 people worldwide and infected more than 8 million.
Results of experiments announced by researchers in Britain on Tuesday showed that dexamethasone, a generic drug used since the 1960s to reduce infections in diseases such as arthritis, reduced death rates by about a third among the most serious coronavirus patients hospitalized.
This makes him the first drug proven to save lives in the fight against disease. Countries are rushing to ensure they have enough of them, although medical officials say there is no shortage.
Some doctors were cautious, noting potential side effects and asking to see more data.
A patient in Denmark received dexamethasone on Wednesday, local news agency Ritsau reported. The doctor who prescribed the medicine said that the medical profession is well aware of its side effects.
The head of the WHO emergency program, Mike Ryan, said the drug should be used only in severe cases where it has been shown to help.
"It is exceptionally important in this case that the drug be reserved for use in patients with severe and critical diseases who can benefit from this drug clearly," he told a news conference.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain had increased the amount of dexamethasone in storage and based on 240,000 doses.
A Stockholm-based doctor told the media that Methylprednisolone, a similar but less effective steroid than dexamethasone, has been used in Sweden since March.
Lars Falk of the New Karolinska Hospital of Sweden Dagens Nyheter said that the steroid was introduced to standard practice after it was proven effective on a coronavirus patient who did not show signs of recovery with other treatments.
The results of a dexamethasone study are preliminary, but the researchers behind the experiment said it indicated that the drug should become standard care in severely ill patients.