On Wednesday (2 September), an analysis of seven international trials found that corticosteroid drugs reduce the risk of death in critical COVID-19 patients by 20 per cent, reports Livemint.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The analysis pooled data from separate trials of low dose hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone and found that steroids improve survival rates of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
"This is equivalent to around 68 per cent of (the sickest COVID-19) patients surviving after treatment with corticosteroids, compared to around 60 per cent surviving in the absence of corticosteroids," the researchers said in a statement.
"Steroids are a cheap and readily available medication, and our analysis of the trials conducted by researchers in Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Spain, and the United States have confirmed that they are effective in reducing deaths amongst the people most severely affected by COVID-19," a researcher who worked on the analysis said.
This led the World Health Organisation to update its advice to include a "strong recommendation" for use of steroids in patients with severe and critical COVID-19.
"The evidence shows that if you give corticosteroids ...(there are) 87 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients," WHO's clinical care lead Janet Diaz told a WHO social media live event.
Researchers said the benefit was shown regardless of whether patients were on ventilation at the time they started treatment.
However, another researcher from the team warned that the steroids were not a cure. “Impressive as these results are, this is not a cure. We now have something that will help, but it is not a cure, so it's vital that we keep up all the prevention strategies," he said.
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