The World Health Organization today recommended doctors provide hydrocortisone or dexamethasone to critically ill COVID-19 patients.
The battle with the virus which has turned our world and our lives inside out. Like any war, this one is being fought on many fronts. One small victory came today from a large study in the United Kingdom released this summer which showed certain steroids to be effective in significantly reducing death rates from COVID-19. The study’s trials were stopped early because the benefits of providing hydrocortisone, dexamethasone or methylprednisolone were so evident in the testing. Continuing to provide placebo treatments to other patients in the trials would have been unethical, once the efficacy of the treatment was clear.
Once placed on a ventilator, patients in the trials had a 30 percent chance of dying compared to 38 percent who were given a placebo or simply received standard care. For those not yet sick enough to be placed on a ventilator, the chance of death was 23 percent for those receiving one of the steroids, compared with a 42 percent chance for those who did not.
I haven’t blogged on this subject much recent weeks because I think everyone’s saturation level with pandemic and political news has become reached and hopelessly entangled. I did want to share some encouraging news in the hope it might lift your spirits and convince to to continue to be vigilant in protecting yourself and others.
COVID rates of infection have been dropping in the United States in recent weeks, yet new outbreaks have been seen in Maine (a state with extremely low case rates) Vermont and even in my own backyard in western Massachusetts, all driven by people attending public events where “reasonable precautions” had been taken.
The poster child for this is an outdoor wedding attended by 65 people in Millinocket, Maine recently where temperatures were taken on admittance and social distancing was alleged to have been practiced. Maine has had only a little more than 4,000 cases and 133 deaths in total. That one event has so far been linked to more than 135 new COVID cases and positive tests. The wedding has also spawned additional outbreaks at a prison (where a wedding attendee works) and a church (from the presiding minister at the wedding) and have resulted in positive tests in some as young as 3 and as old as 70. The venue has had its permits suspended by the state.