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A newly released analysis of seven international trials found that corticosteroids can reduce the risk of death by 20% in severely sick COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
“The value of the steroids to treat patients with COVID-19 is being backed up by scientific evidence,” said Dr. Javier Perez-Fernandez, an emergency medicine physician with Baptist Hospital.
Perez-Fernandez says he began using the treatment on patients in early March and starting noticing a difference in patients who were given the treatment.
”From the very beginning, we observed that it really is beneficial for the oxygen level of the patients with respiratory failures,” he said. “Also the time that they spend on supportive care like a respiratory machine, a ventilator and or any other device that helps to breathe and those are shortened by the use of the steroids.”
The analysis which used data from separate trials of hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone, was published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The first evidence that steroids could be life-saving for critically ill COVID-19 patients was in June from a British clinical trial called RECOVERY.
“From the British study we have conclusive evidence that steroids reduce mortality as well compared to those patients who do not get the treatment,” Perez-Fernandez said.
Perez-Fernandez stresses that prevention methods against COVID-19 are still important as there is no cure for the virus.
“I want to highlight the fact that neither steroids or any other treatment that is available at this point is the cure for the disease,” he said.
The World Health Organization recently added the cheap and easily accessible steroid drugs to their recommendations for COVID-19 treatment options, but doctors warn that it’s not to be used in every patient as it could be harmful for some.
“The studies have shown no benefit unless you have respiratory symptoms. Every treatment should be done in coordination with your healthcare provider,” Perez-Fernandez said.