Despite fear of second wave, steroids ‘hope’ raises hope against virus
Geneva: The World Health Organization on Tuesday claimed a “breakthrough” steroid treatment for coronaviruses, hoping that epidemic deaths could be reduced, but a growing new cluster in China predicted a second wave of infection .
The death toll in the US and South Asia has been rising, along with a new set of cases in Beijing, raising new doubts as to how quickly the world can bring COVID-19 under control.
In the latest sign of the economic toll, US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that the world’s largest economy is unlikely to recover because there is “significant uncertainty” about the epidemic.
But news of a previously proven effective treatment for COVID-19, a widely available steroid, gave reason for fresh hope.
“This congratulates the Government of Britain, Oxford University, and many of the UK hospitals and patients who have contributed to this scientific breakthrough,” said the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Phannom Ghebayeus. “.
Researchers led by a team at the University of Oxford gave the drug, dexamethasone, to more than 2,000 critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Those who could only breathe with the help of ventilators reduced deaths by 35 percent.
“Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide,” said Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in Oxford.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock said patients would begin receiving the drug immediately.
China cluster, India spike
But there were fresh reminders of the dreaded threat from Asia.
China, which largely brought its outbreak under control, reported another 31 new infections in Beijing, reaching 137 in six days from a fresh cluster linked to the wholesale food market.
State media reported that the capital’s airports on Wednesday canceled at least 1,255 flights, about 70 percent of all services.
The new outbreak has not urged authorities to enforce mass testing, lock out neighborhoods, close schools and leave residents downtown.
And in India, the second most populous country in the world, the death of its COVID-19 killed over 12,000 people, more than 2,000.
So far, more than 8.1 million people have been infected with the virus after nearly 440,000 people died at the end of last year in China.
Brazil, which has the second largest caseload and death toll in the world, reported its largest daily jump in new cases since the onset of the epidemic: 34,918.
Peru’s death toll, meanwhile, rose past 7,000.
And the United States, the hardest hit country, passed a serious milestone: with 116,854 deaths, the country has seen more people die from the pandemic than in the First World War.
Fed chief Powell once again pledged that the bank would use all its policy tools to help it recover from the outbreak, adding that low-income and minority groups suffered the most.
But the economic contraction in the April-June quarter “is likely to be the most severe on record,” he said.
Beyond the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia have reported a sharp increase in deaths and infections in recent times.
Fan please stay away
European countries including Belgium, France, Germany and Greece have started lifting border restrictions in hopes of saving the summer tourism season.
But life is still far from normal.
In Britain, the Premier League football season begins on Wednesday, but in empty stadiums.
The league urged supporters not to congregate outside the grounds, endangering new groups of infections.
It plans to pipe crowd chants into stadiums, place cardboard cut-outs of supporters in stands, and use live video fan walls, but in the words of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, things are going to be “a little weird” There is risk.