A new commentary article published in the journal Lancet has mentioned that steroids should not be advised for the treatment of the new coronavirus.
Experts explained that steroids offer little benefits to patients affected by the new coronavirus and could prove harmful based on evidence from previous similar outbreaks, such as SARS.
They recommended clinicians to avoid using steroids for treating the new coronavirus, aka 2019-nCoV. However, clinicians should still advise steroids for other inflammatory diseases and asthma.
More often than not, doctors prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation, which is commonly seen in patients’ lungs affected by the new coronavirus.
Inflammation of the lungs was common during the outbreaks of SARS and MERS, which are other strains of the coronavirus.
The experts also explained that steroids could impair the immune system’s ability to combat viruses and other microbes that cause infection and eventually life-threatening complications. That’s why using steroids could cause more harm.
One study found that many patients with MERS who received steroids required additional treatments such as breathing assistance, medications to increase blood pressure, and even a type of dialysis. In fact, those who received steroids had taken a long time to get rid of the virus.
Another study found that steroids caused significant harm during the SARS outbreak. The virus was still present in patients who took steroids for up to three weeks.
Lead author of the commentary article Dr. J. Kenneth Baillie said, “During this current coronavirus outbreak clinicians are faced with some tough decisions on how to treat people who have been infected.”
“After looking carefully at what evidence is available, we would advise that steroids should not be used for the treatment of lung injury caused by this new virus,” added Dr. Baillie. “If steroids are used, it should be as part of a clinical trial so that we can find out if they are helping or harming patients.”