The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, considered that until now the corticosteroid dexamethasone is the only therapy proven to be effective against covid-19, for patients with serious illnesses.
Speaking at an online press conference from the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted that, according to data from the WHO-sponsored trial, remdesivir and interferon drugs are not effective in the fight against covid-19.
The results of the study had already been released and were even questioned by the American pharmacist Gilead, who said they seemed “inconsistent”, noting that other trials validate the benefit of the antiviral.
However, this Friday at the press conference, WHO officials said that interim trials show that remdesivir and interferon “have little or no effect on preventing death from covid-19 or reducing hospital time”, with the director-general stressing that it was the largest trial ever done, involving 13,000 people from 500 hospitals in 30 countries.
The director-general recalled at the press conference that hydroxychloroquine was removed from the study in June and that in July, patients also stopped taking the combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.
The WHO chief official thanked the study participants and said he hoped the full results would be published soon in an “important scientific journal”, adding that the trial is recruiting around 2,000 patients every month and would evaluate other treatments, including monoclonal antibodies and new antivirals.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that with the approach of winter in the northern hemisphere, cases of covid-19 are increasing, especially in Europe, where the number of cases reported last week was almost three times higher than that of the first pandemic peak, in last March.
Although the number of deaths was “much lower” than in March, hospitalizations are increasing, he warned, stressing afterwards that many health facilities in Europe could reach their limit in the coming weeks.
“Each hospital bed occupied by a patient with covid-19 is a bed that is not available to someone with another condition or disease, such as the flu”, also said the official, pointing out that there are up to 3.5 million serious cases of seasonal flu worldwide each year and 650,000 deaths related to respiratory diseases.
“During the winter of the southern hemisphere this year, the number of cases of seasonal flu and deaths was less than usual due to the measures put in place to contain the covid-19. But we cannot assume that the same will happen in the flu season in the northern hemisphere, ”he warned, adding that WHO recommends flu vaccination for the most vulnerable groups.
Regarding the World Hypertension Day, which is being celebrated today, the Director-General of WHO also recalled that hypertension increases the risk of other diseases and that the covid-19 pandemic has disrupted services in this area in more than half of the countries of the world.
“Even when we focus on ending the pandemic, we must remember that covid-19 is just one health threat among many”, and when it ends there will continue to be more than 1 billion hypertensive people in the world, he warned.
The covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than one million and ninety-nine thousand deaths and almost 39 million cases of infection worldwide, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.
In Portugal, 2,149 people died from 95,902 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.
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