But given the lack of other options for people at the highest immediate risk of dying, the affordability of these cheap, generic drugs, and the low risk of serious complications, the WHO is now advising their use as a standard treatment, given intravenously or via pill, for these hardest-to-save cases. “We recommend systemic corticosteroids rather than no corticosteroids for the treatment of patients with severe and critical COVID-19,” the authors of a WHO “living guidance” report released Wednesday wrote.
While many doctors across the world have likely already started using steroids widely for their covid-19 patients (in fact, several ongoing clinical trials of steroids were ended early after the RECOVERY trial was made public, due to fears they would be depriving some patients of clearly beneficial treatment), the guidance is sure to further enshrine steroids as part of the standard tool box for treatment.
Though some individual trials found only weak evidence that steroids provided a life-saving benefit, the larger review found a clear association between steroid treatment and an increased chance of survival among critically ill covid-19 patients.
The WHO-led review included over 1,700 people with critical or severe covid-19 who were randomized into groups given standard care and either steroid treatment or a placebo.
All the trials looked at the effects of corticosteroids—a class of drugs long used in medicine to reduce inflammation and tamp down the immune system, among other things—on the prognosis of people with severe covid-19; one trial also looked at people diagnosed with moderate covid-19.
Cheap steroid drugs can save the lives of people with severe covid-19, new studies suggest https://t.co/tdMUR9zyrC— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) September 3, 2020
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