Analysis of seven trials finds dexamethasone and hydrocortisone should be given in severe cases.
Studies around the world have confirmed that steroids can save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to new recommendations from the World Heath Organization that doctors should give them to severely ill patients.
In June, the Recovery trial run in most NHS hospitals and led by Oxford University found that the lives of one in eight people sick enough from Covid-19 to need a ventilator could be saved by a steroid called dexamethasone.
Now, combined results from that trial and six others have confirmed those findings and established that at least one other equally cheap and widely available steroid, hydrocortisone, also saves lives.
The drugs reduce the risk of death in these seriously ill patients by 20%, according to a meta-analysis of the results of the seven trials covering a total of 1,703 patients, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Three of the trials have also been published separately in the journal.
“Steroids are a cheap and readily available medication, and our analysis has confirmed that they are effective in reducing deaths amongst the people most severely affected by Covid-19,” said Jonathan Sterne, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Bristol University and the lead author of the meta-analysis.
“The results were consistent across the trials and show benefit regardless of age or sex.”
Image Credit: Yui Mok/PA
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