Budesonide as game changer against COVID-19?

Reduce the risk of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 by 90%? According to a recently published Lancet study, an asthma inhaler could do exactly that.

Reduction of severe courses by 90%

A risk reduction of hospitalisation due to COVID-19 of up to 90%? According to a recently published Lancet study, an asthma inhaler could do exactly that - provided the steroid budesonide is taken within the first few days of symptom onset. SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach sees real hope in this.

The results of a recent Lancet Respiratory Medicine study are encouraging in the fight against the coronavirus: If the asthma drug budesonide is administered in the early stages of a COVID-19 infection, the risk of severe disease progression and resulting hospitalisation could be reduced by up to 90%. This is the result of a study of 146 test subjects. All participants suffered from mild symptoms after a COVID-19 infection. Half of the test subjects were given the asthma inhaler (800 μg per dose) twice a day for seven days. The control group received no treatment with the steroid.

In the control group, 11 participants had to be hospitalised due to severe COVID-19 progression (15%). In the budesonide group, only two people were hospitalised (3%). Similarly, the proportion of patients who needed treatment with antipyretics was lower in the budesonide group compared to the control group (27% vs. 50%). Overall, according to the research team, the steroid thus reduced the relative risk of a severe COVID-19 course by 90%.

Treatment method well suited for use in GP practices

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach is also convinced by the study results from Oxford. On Twitter, the member of the Bundestag wrote: "In my opinion a 'game changer' because the study was well done." The study results indicated that budesonide shows a clear benefit in the early treatment of all COVID-19 sufferers. In the eyes of the health expert, the study results make clinical sense, as the anti-inflammatory effect in the lungs could prevent the deterioration of lung function and the likelihood of long-COVID sequelae is reduced by budesonide treatment.

Lauterbach sees another advantage in the fact that general practitioners could also easily treat their patients with the asthma medication. The dosage described in the study is not particularly high and can be achieved by inhaling twice a day. The health expert concludes: "I know some doctors who are already following this strategy. I would do the same as a GP based on the available data, without contraindication."

1. inhaled budesonide in the treatment of early COVID-19 (STOIC): a phase 2, open-label, randomised controlled trial.
Bafadhel et al. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00160-0
2. twitter page Karl Lauterbach: https://twitter.com/Karl_Lauterbach/status/1381183392998420481

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