WHO recommends corticosteroids for COVID-19 treatment

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends systemic corticosteroids to treat patients with severe COVID-19. Based on a WHO-sponsored meta-analysis published in JAMA, COVID-19 patients appeared to benefit substantially from treatment with systemic corticosteroids.

The research included seven randomized controlled trials populated by roughly 1,700 critically ill patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Participants were divided into two arms: 678 received corticosteroids and 1,025 received standard care or placebo. A total of 222 patients in the intervention group died within 28 days versus 425 in the control group for a 34% lower mortality rate with corticosteroids.

Based on the findings, WHO released Living Guidance on corticosteroids for COVID-19 on the same day the study was published in JAMA.

The WHO recommendation coincides with the publication of three randomized trials, one investigating dexamethasone and two others evaluating the use of hydrocortisone, also published in JAMA.