New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: In a major development regarding the coronavirus treatment, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) analysis of seven international trials found that treating the critically ill COVID-19 patients with corticosteroid can reduce the death risk by 20 per cent.

The WHO conducted an analysis from the separate trials of low dose hydrocortisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone, and found that steroids can improve survival rate of critically ill COVID-19 patients sick enough to be in intensive care in hospital.

"This is equivalent to around 68% of (the sickest COVID-19) patients surviving after treatment with corticosteroids, compared to around 60% surviving in the absence of corticosteroids," the researchers said in a statement.

The 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," she told a WHO social media live event. "Those are lives ... saved."

"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," Jonathan Sterne, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Britain's Bristol University who worked on the analysis, said as reported by news agency Reuters.

Sterne also said that the trials conducted in Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Spain, and the United States showed consistent results in treating sickest patients regardless of their age, gender or how long they had been ill.

Published in the Journal of American Medical Association (AMA), the findings reinforce the results announced in June, when dexamethasone became the first drug shown to be able to reduce death rates among severely sick COVID-19 patients.

Dexamethasone has been in widespread use in intensive care wards treating COVID-19 patients in some countries since then.

Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Oxford who worked on the dexamethasone trial that was a key part of the pooled analysis published on Wednesday, said the results mean doctors in hospitals across the world can safely switch to using the drugs to save lives.

"These results are clear, and instantly usable in clinical practice," he said as quoted by Reuters, adding that "Among critically ill patients with COVID-19, low-dose corticosteroids ... significantly reduce the risk of death."

Researchers said the benefit was shown regardless of whether patients were on ventilation at the time they started treatment. They said the WHO would update its guidelines immediately to reflect the fresh results.

Until the June findings on dexamethasone, no effective treatment had been shown to reduce death rates in patients with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talib Khan