DOH: Dexamethasone ‘not magic pill’ for COVID-19

Bonz Magsambol
DOH: Dexamethasone ‘not magic pill’ for COVID-19
While the potential effectiveness of the drug can be a breakthrough in science, Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire says the public should wait for the peer review of the clinical trial

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public that  dexamethasone, a steroid, is not a cure for COVID-19 nor prevents individuals from contracting the deadly virus. 

“People might think that this is the magic pill para sa COVID-19. It is not. Hindi ito gamot na ‘pag ininom, mawawala ang COVID-19 o ‘pag ininom mo ito, hindi ka magkaka-COVID (People might that this is the magic pill for COVID-19. It is not. This is not a drug that, when taken, will make COVID-19 disappear or if you take it, you won’t get infected with COVID-19), DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Veregire said during a virtual briefing on Wednesday, June 17. 

Vergeire said this after British researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford found that dexamethasone reduced the mortality rate to less than 30% of more than 2,000 severely ill COVID-19 patients who took the drug. (READ: Steroid first drug shown to save lives of severest coronavirus cases)

While the potential effectiveness of the drug can be a breakthrough in science, Vergeire said that the public should wait for the peer review of the clinical trial.

“Ang peer review part siya ng process para masabi mo na ang study ay katanggap-tanggap. Wala pang peer review. Ang gagawin natin ngayon ay hihintayin natin ang peer review,” Vergeire said. 

(Peer review is part of the process to validate that the study is acceptable. There’s no peer review results yet. What we will do now is to wait for the results of the peer review.)

Vergeire also advised the public not to self-medicate with dexamethasone as it should be prescribed and administered by medical professionals. 

She added that at the moment, the drug is only being used as “supportive treatment” for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 

“Hindi tayo bibili sa drugstores para inumin natin ito para maprevent na magkaka-COVID-19 tayo. Kailangan na hintayin natin ang proseso ng pag-aaral. Ibinibigay lang ito sa mga pasyente na nasa hospital,” Vergeire said. 

(Do not buy this drug from drugstores and do not take it to prevent COVID-19 infection. We should wait for the results of the study. This is only being administered to patients in hospitals.) 

There are ongoing trials of a number of existing drugs for COVID-19 treatment, with mixed results.

Trials of treatment of the anti-arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine were halted in several countries after a study published in The Lancet medical journal suggested it did not benefit COVID-19 patients and even increased the risk of death.

That study has since been retracted due to inconsistencies in the data, but others have come to the same conclusion.

Remdesivir, an anti-viral that appears to reduce the length of treatment in some patients, is already being used in Britain, but one study in April showed it had “no significant clinical benefit.”

Vergeire also said at the Wednesday briefing that the Philippines is preparing to submit its letter of intent to participate in the World Health Organization solidarity trials for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, the Philippines recorded 26,781 coronavirus cases, including 1,103 deaths and 6,552 recoveries. –



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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.