DOH reminds public: Steroid not a ‘magic pill’ for COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 17) —  The Department of Health on Wednesday advised the public to be cautious in interpreting the preliminary study findings that steroid drug dexamethasone can reduce the risk of the sickest patients dying from coronavirus disease.

DOH expressed concern that this discovery might lead people to ‘think it is a magic pill for COVID-19.’

“Nakakatakot din kasi na lumabas itong breakthrough na ito (This breakthrough is scary),” Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told a media forum.

Vergeire was referring to the Tuesday announcement of two lead investigators of the Recovery Trial, a large United Kingdom-based trial investigating potential COVID-19 treatments, that a low-dose regimen of dexamethasone for 10 days was found to reduce the risk of death by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation. 

The official pointed out that this research needs to be ‘peer reviewed’ first to ensure that its findings are ‘acceptable.’

“Kailangan antayin nating makumpleto ang proseso ng pag-aaral.”

[Translation: We need to wait for the study process to complete.]

Vergeire said the local health experts will await for the peer reviewed version of the clinical trial before considering to give the drug to local patients with severe COVID-19.

"Aantayin natin resulta ng peer review para ang ating mga eksperto ay mapagaralan iyan at masabi kung pwede nating gawin ito sa ating mga pasyente."

[Translation: We will wait for the peer review results so our experts could evaluate if this could be given to our patients.]

The health official reiterated that there is still no proven cure for and vaccine against COVID-19.

“Itong dexamethasone … hindi ito gamot na pag ininom mo ay mawawala ng COVID-19 o pag ininom mo ay hindi ka magkakaroon ng COVID-19,” Vergeire said, citing the Recovery Trial's preliminary results.

[This dexamethasone does not guarantee that once you take it, you would recover from COVID-19, or you would not get infected with COVID-19.]

While caution is warranted, DOH acknowledged that this may be a ‘breakthrough’ in the global fight against COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the country’s COVID-19 cases reached 26,781, with 1,103 deaths and 6,552 recoveries.