(Kelly Grant/ Globe and Mail) —Cheap, widely available steroids significantly reduce the risk of death for severely ill COVID-19 patients, according to a new international study that reinforces the findings of an earlier British trial and confirms that more than one type of steroid can save lives.
The new findings prompted the World Health Organization to update its treatment guidelines, bringing the international agency’s advice into line with that of many countries, including Canada, that already recommend a steroid called dexamethasone for the sickest COVID-19 patients.
The drug, which has been used to treat other illnesses for decades, burst into the public consciousness in June, when a British clinical trial found it cut the risk of death by about a third for COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilators.
The new study, published on Wednesday in JAMA, pooled data from the British trial and six other clinical trials – including one with Canadian sites – and confirmed that dexamethasone did indeed cut the risk of death substantially for coronavirus patients in the intensive-care unit, even those who did not require invasive ventilation. (…)