A new analysis from the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that cheap, widely available steroid drugs help reduce deaths among severely ill coronavirus patients, shedding more light on the path to treating the virus.
The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday, looked at seven clinical trials involving 1,703 patients. It found that steroids such as dexamethasone helped reduce mortality in seriously ill patients.
The findings confirmed an earlier study in June, which concluded that the drugs reduced deaths in seriously ill patients by one third.
The World Health Organization issued new recommendations on Wednesday recommending the use of the steroid treatment for seven to 10 days in “patients with severe and critical COVID-19.” It also recommended not to use the treatment in patients with non-severe cases of the disease, “given that current data indicated they would not likely derive benefit and may derive harm.”
While the new study provides further evidence of a way to treat the virus, it is far from a total cure.
Other than the steroid drugs, remdesivir has been shown to have modest benefit in some patients. Convalescent plasma has also been touted by the Trump administration, though experts say further trials are needed to show that it works.
The WHO said in its recommendations that the steroid drugs represented “an important reduction in the risk of death.”