A cheap and easy blood test for inflammation may help determine which COVID-19 patients will benefit from getting steroids.In an observational study of people hospitalized with COVID-19, those with high levels of an inflammation indicator called C-reactive protein in their blood had a reduced chance of dying or being put on a ventilator when treated with steroids. But steroid treatment more than doubled the risk of needing a ventilator or dying for people with low levels of the inflammation-indicating protein, researchers report July 22 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
“Steroids are Goldilocks drugs: They need to be given at the just right time,” says Luis Ostrosky, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who was not involved with the work. Giving steroids too early may rein in the immune system too much so that it can’t effectively fight the coronavirus, leading to the virus doing more damage. And “if you give steroids too late, the damage is already done.”
Japan Approves Dexamethasone as Coronavirus Treatment
Japan’s health ministry has approved dexamethasone, a cheap and widely used steroid, as a second treatment of COVID-19 after a trial in Britain showed the drug reduced death rates in hospitalised patients.The ministry included dexamethasone as an option for treatment along with Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir in a recent revision to its handbook. The revision was widely reported by Japanese media on Wednesday and was viewed by Reuters.
In results announced last month, a trial by researchers in the United Kingdom showed dexamethasone as the first drug to save lives of COVID-19 patients in what scientists said was a major breakthrough in the coronavirus pandemic.The full results of the large randomised clinical trial released last Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the benefits for people with advanced or moderate disease.