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WHO Sees 'Green Shoots of Hope' Though Pandemic Still Rages

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment checks the temperature of a woman at a slum in Mumbai, India, June 17, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that while nations must continue to fight the spread of COVID-19, it sees what it calls “green shoots of hope” in the fight to slow the pandemic.

At its regular briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as of Wednesday there have been more than 435,000 deaths in the Americas, Africa and South Asia, with cases still rapidly rising in some areas.

But he pointed to encouraging results from drug trials this week as “green shoots of hope” amidst the ongoing pandemic.

Trial results announced on Tuesday by British researchers showed dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid commonly used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation, cut death rates by around a third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital.

WHO officials stress it does not actually treat the coronavirus itself and does not prevent infection. But it treats some of the more life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19 in critical patients.

The officials stressed that dexamethasone should only be used under close medical supervision. They said the drug is one of the many breakthroughs that are going to be needed to effectively deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.