Representational image.

The Centre on Saturday allowed the use of dexamethasone as an alternative choice to methylprednisolone for treating COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms.

The Union health ministry has made the recommendation among a series of other measures in the     updated clinical management protocol for managing COVID-19 cases.

According to the revised ‘Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19’, dexamethasone which is already used in treating lung infections besides in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects can be used as an alternative to methylprednisolone which already existed in the treatment guidelines.

“Dexamethasone has been tested in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the RECOVERY clinical trial and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients and has been shown to reduce mortality by about one third for patients on ventilators, and by about one fifth for patients being maintained on oxygen therapy,” the Union health ministry said in a statement.

“The drug is also a part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and is widely available,” it added.

The health ministry also said that the change has been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation.

Union health secretary Preeti Sudan has asked all states and union territories to make necessary arrangements for availability and use of the updated protocol and drug dexamethasone at the institutional level also.

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