Safety and efficacy of glucocorticoids in the treatment of COVID-19: A meta-analysis of randomized control trials

Link to article at PubMed

Expert Rev Respir Med. 2023 Feb 3. doi: 10.1080/17476348.2023.2177155. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: It is unclear the efficacy and safety of glucocorticoids compared with placebo or usual care for treatment of COVID-19.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of corticosteroids in COVID-19 patients from December 1, 2019, to June 30, 2022, were assessed using Cochrane bias risk assessment method and improved Jadad score scale. GRADEpro was used to rate the quality of evidence for outcomes.

RESULTS: Fifteen RCTs were included, including 10620 patients. Glucocorticoid treatment for severe and critical COVID-19 showed lesser all-cause mortality (OR = 0.85, 95% CI [0.76, 0.94], P = 0.002) than conventional treatment. However, for mildly ill patients, neither inhaled drugs nor intravenous drugs reduced mortality (OR=0.64, 95% CI [0.24, 1.76], P = 0.39). Glucocorticoids had no significant effect on the adverse reactions of patients (OR = 1.18, 95% CI [0.77, 1.80], P =0.44) compared withusual care/placebo. Subgroup analysis demonstrated that dexamethasone significantly reduced the mortality of COVID-19 patients. Low-dose glucocorticoids were also associated with lower all-cause mortality.

CONCLUSION: Glucocorticoids (especially dexamethasone) reduce mortality of patients with severe and critical COVID-19 with no significant effect on the incidence of adverse reactions (moderate quality). In contrast, glucocorticoids do not benefit patients with mild symptoms (low quality).

PMID:36738136 | DOI:10.1080/17476348.2023.2177155

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