Cheap and easily accessible steroids can improve survival for severely ill coronavirus patients, a treatment guideline that the World Health Organization is now recommending. "The bottom line is all the data, when viewed together, are consistent and show that we can help severely ill and critically ill patients by giving them steroids," said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious disease at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who was not involved with the steroids study. Steroids reduced the risk of death in the first month by about one-third compared to placebo treatment or usual care alone in seriously ill COVID patients who needed extra oxygen, an analysis of pooled results from seven studies, led by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed. Steroid drugs are inexpensive, widely available and have been used for decades. They reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in coronavirus patients as the immune system overreacts to fight the infection, which can be fatal.
Clinical scientists have explored de-identified electronic health record data in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative(N3C), a National Institutes of Health-funded national clinical database, using machine learning models to help decipher characteristics of individuals with long COVID and attributes that may help identify such patients using information from medical records. The discoveries published in The Lancet Digital Health have the potential to enhance clinical research on extended COVID and inspire a more consistent COVID treatment regimen. The author Emily R. Pfaff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine's Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, said that characterizing, diagnosing, treating, and caring for long COVID patients has turned out to be difficult owing to the list of characteristic symptoms constantly evolving over time. They needed to better grasp the intricacies of long COVID, and it made sense to use current data analysis methods and a unique, extensive data resource like N3C, which represents many of the properties of long COVID. The N3C data enclave, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), already has information on more than 13 million people from 72 locations, including approximately 5 million COVID-19-positive patients.