The World Health Organization called on Monday for a rapid increase in production of dexamethasone, a cheap steroid which has been shown to reduce deaths in critically ill coronavirus patients, AFP reports
WHO urges dexamethasone boom for worst virus cases
"Although the data are still preliminary, the recent finding that the steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19 patients gave us a much-needed reason to celebrate," Tedros told a virtual news conference in Geneva.
"The next challenge is to increase production and rapidly and equitably distribute dexamethasone worldwide, focusing on where it is needed most."
Dexamethasone has been on the market for over 60 years and usually serves to reduce inflammation.
The WHO emphasises that dexamethasone should only be used for patients with severe or critical disease under close clinical supervision.
"There is no evidence that the drug works for patients with mild disease or as a preventative measure, and it could cause harm," Tedros warned.
The UN health agency boss insisted that countries with large numbers of critically ill coronavirus patients needed to be prioritised.
But Tedros warned that suppliers had to guarantee quality "as there is a high risk of substandard or falsified products entering the market".