Since its appearance in late 2019, infections caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have created unprecedented challenges for health systems worldwide. Multiple therapeutic options have been explored including corticosteroids (CS); preliminary results of CS in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are encouraging, however, the role of CS is still controversial.
What is the impact of CS in mortality, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and viral shedding in COVID-19 cases?
Study Design and Methods
We conducted a systematic review of literature on CS and COVID-19 in major databases (PubMed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE) of published literature until July 22, 2020, that report outcomes of interest in COVID-19 patients receiving CS with a comparative group.
A total of 73 studies with 21,350 COVID-19 cases were identified. CS use was widely reported in mechanically ventilated (35.3%), ICU (51.3%) and severe COVID-19 cases (40%). CS showed mortality benefit in severelly ill COVID-19 cases (OR 0.65, 95%CI 0.51-0.83, P=0.0006), however, no beneficial or harmful effects were noted amongst high- or low-dose CS regimens. Emerging evidence shows that low-dose CS do not have a significant impact in the duration of SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding. The analysis was limited by highly heterogeneous literature for high- and low-dose CS regimens.
Our results show evidence of mortality benefit in severely-ill COVID-19 treated with CS. CS are widely used in COVID-19 cases worldwide and a rapidly developing global pandemic warrants further high-quality clinical trials to define the most beneficial timing and dosing for CS.