I wrote last summer ( Asthma inhalers on trial for treatment of COVID-19 ) about the recruitment of volunteers to test the efficacy of corticosteroid therapy administered via an inhaler in the non-hospital treatment of COVID.
Now, Oxford University researchers have concluded that budesonide, a common drug used in an inhaler for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, speeds up recovery from those with COVID by an average of three days.
The drug was trialled as an at-home COVID treatment after it was noticed that people with asthma were under-represented in patients who had been hospitalised with COVID. Researchers suspected it could be their asthma treatments that were preventing the virus from progressing.
The study involved nearly 2000 volunteers, all over 65 or over 50 with an underlying health condition, who had tested positive for COVID. Those who were assigned inhaled budesonide recovered three days more quickly than those who received standard care. Nearly a third got better within two weeks compared with just 22 per cent of those without the inhaler.
Associate Professor Gail Hayward, trial co-principal investigator at the University of Oxford and a GP said, "For the first time in the pandemic I now have evidence for a treatment to offer my patients, the ones who are at home, not in hospital, who develop COVID."