The UN agency says it is “extremely concerned” by the surge in cases in Europe and the Americas, which is pushing health workers and health systems to breaking point.

WHO endorses steroid as lifesaving Covid-19 treatment

“Steroids are a cheap and readily available medication, and our analysis has confirmed that they are effective in reducing deaths among the people most severely affected by Covid-19.”

DURBAN – The World Health Organization just endorsed cheap, widely available steroids as a lifesaving Covid-19 treatment.

Citing evidence from a newly published trial and a meta-analysis, the WHO on Wednesday updated its guidelines for steroids. It now recommends them for severely or critically ill Covid-19 patients, such as those on a ventilator, but not for patients with milder disease.

WHO’s clinical care lead, Janet Diaz, said the agency had updated 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. Those are lives saved,”  Diaz told a WHO social media live event. 

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Jonathan Sterne, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Bristol University and the lead author of the meta-analysis said the results were consistent across the trials and show benefit regardless of age or sex.

“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,”Sterne said.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reinforce results that were hailed as a major breakthrough and announced in June, when a study from the U.K found that the steroid dexamethasone was a big help.

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 It reduced deaths significantly among the most serious cases of Covid-19 notably people who needed ventilators or supplemental oxygen. Dexamethasone has been in widespread use in intensive care wards treating Covid-19 patients in some countries since then.

 

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