THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A trio of clinical trials on the efficacy of cheap and widely available steroids in the treatment of severe and critical Covid-19 patients has given fresh hope to the state. With the official Covid death tally of the state crossing the 300-mark and those who succumbed to the virus were found to be mainly senior citizens and those with comorbidities, it is learnt that the trials might influence the existing treatment protocol also.
The outcome of the trials endorsed by the WHO was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday. “The trials had highlighted the efficacy of systemic corticosteroids (like dexamethasone and hydrocortisone which are given orally or by injection) for Covid-19. It showed that by administering it to severe and critical patients, the mortality could be reduced. The state will examine what’s new with the said trial as corticosteroids are already in use as part of the treatment protocol,” said an officer of the health department.
Corticosteroids are very strong medicines used as part of the treatment for a number of different diseases. Though the body naturally produces certain cortisone-like hormones which are necessary to maintain good health, the doctors may prescribe the same if the body does not produce enough. At the same time, the WHO on Wednesday also came out with a document, ‘Corticosteroids for Covid-19’, which says that though it might be effective for severe or critical patients, it should not be used for non-severe cases. It also observed that the use of systemic corticosteroids might even result in a small reduction in the need for mechanical ventilation, which places a large physical burden on patients and an emotional burden on patients and families.
According to an official who is part of the Covid-19 prevention and control programme, the outcome of the trials is important for the state especially when it is expecting a peak of Covid-19 cases. Sources said in the light of the latest findings, the health department will examine whether changes will have to be brought to the Covid Treatment Guidelines (version 2) released on August 15.
“The guidelines released in August had considered the data from trials like Adaptive Covid-19 Treatment Trial or ACTT, Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) and others,” said an official. The state currently uses steroids in patients requiring oxygen support. Low-dose corticosteroids like dexamethasone and hydrocortisone are also being used.