Pakistan on Wednesday said it is considering to use steroid dexamethasone, which has been shown to reduce the risk of death by up to one-third among severely ill coronavirus patients, as the COVID-19 death toll crossed 3,000 in the country.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza tweeted that an experts' committee would decide to include the drug for treatment of critically ill patients.
Researchers at Oxford University in England say they have the first evidence that the cheap and widely available anti-inflammatory steroid can improve survival from COVID-19. Results released Tuesday show it reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalised patients. The drug did not appear to help less ill patients.
The UK government on Wednesday authorised the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) to use the drug.
Mirza in a tweet said, "Positive results from the UK on use of dexamethaone in critical patients welcomed by WHO as a 1st treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with COVID-19 requiring Oxygen or ventilator support. Expert Committee in Pakistan to consider inclusion."
In another tweet, he said the drug was only for critically ill COVID-19 patients and must not be used by patients suffering mild to moderate symptoms as the medicine may be dangerous due to its side effects.
The development came as Pakistan on Wednesday registered a record 166 deaths in one day due to COVID-19, taking the total fatalities to 3,005 while the number of infected cases rose to 1,56,875.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan, talking to reporters in Karachi, said that Pakistan was the only country to strike a balance between tackling the spread of the virus and saving the economy.
He said: "Corona is international. Pakistan is thankfully saved, we would have reached our peak anyway because we can't [afford to] lockdown." He was in Karachi to overview the steps taken in Sindh province to control the spread of the coronavirus.