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Steroid drug purchased for COVID-19 patients in poor countries - UN

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) is negotiating the advance purchase under the deal led by UNITAID and Wellcome, as part of the World Health Organization’s plan to accelerate access to therapeutics, a joint statement said.

A pharmacist holds a box of dexamethasone tablets at a pharmacy in London on 16 June 2020. The steroid dexamethasone was shown to be the first drug to significantly reduce the risk of death among severe COVID-19 cases, in trial results hailed as a 'major breakthrough' in the fight against the disease. Picture: AFP

GENEVA - An initial purchase of the steroid dexamethasone, shown to be effective in treating severe or critical COVID-19 patients, will be made for up to 4.5 million people in low- and middle-income countries, agencies said on Friday.

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) is negotiating the advance purchase under the deal led by UNITAID and Wellcome, as part of the World Health Organization’s plan to accelerate access to therapeutics, a joint statement said.

“With this advanced purchase we aim to ensure equitable access for low- and middle-income countries for the treatment of COVID-19 with the life-saving drug dexamethasone, and avoid shortages resulting from high levels of demand from other parts of the world,” said Philippe Duneton, acting executive director of UNITAID.

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