This existing drug could lower death rates in severe COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found that early in the global coronavirus pandemic, using steroids to combat COVID-19 in severely ill patients could have saved lives.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Huddersfield.

In the study, the team assessed the results of using corticosteroids such as dexamethasone on hospitalized COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who were on respiratory support.

By mid-April, they had found that the proportion of COVID-19 patients who died in the steroid group was much lower compared to those who did not receive corticosteroids, at 28% vs. 69%.

The team’s work highlights the issues involved in scrutinizing scientific evidence, as well as costs involved in research and the UK’s preference for evidence-based practice.

Oxford University’s RECOVERY trial came to similar conclusions as to the Huddersfield researchers in mid-June, leading to the UK government’s decision that dexamethasone could be made available to patients, a move being followed around the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had, early in the pandemic, recommended that steroids should not be used to combat COVID-19 due to perceived risk of delayed coronavirus clearance.

Despite warnings from WHO, various global bodies acknowledged the mortality benefits of using steroids on COVID-19 patients with ARDS, such as the National Health Commission & State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NHC), Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC), and the National Institute of Health (NIH).

One author of the study is Dr. Hamid Merchant.

The study is published in the Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine.

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