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Inhaler hope for primary COVID care

Tuesday April 13th 2021

An inhaled asthma drug could help treat COVID-19 patients who have not yet been admitted to hospital, according to the findings of a major UK study published last night.

Oxford University researchers said it was the first cheap and widely available drug found to improve recovery times for patients over the age of 50 treated in the community.

The drug, inhaled budesonide, is a common corticosteroid and has been tested in one of the innovative Oxford-back studies of multiple treatments, in this case the PRINCIPLE trial, which has been aimed at the over 50s.

The latest findings involved 1,779 participants and, according to the researchers, the drug shortened recovery time by three days.

Patients inhaled twice a day for 14 days and all the patients had underlying health conditions that might have increased risk.

Researcher Professor Chris Butler, a GP in South Wales, said the finding was “exciting.”

Professor Butler said: “We therefore anticipate that medical practitioners around the world caring for people with COVID-19 in the community may wish to consider this evidence when making treatment decisions, as it should help people with COVID-19 recover quicker.”

Fellow researcher Professor Richard Hobbs added: “Unlike other proven treatments, budesonide is effective as a treatment at home and during the early stages of the illness. This is a significant milestone for this pandemic and a major achievement for community-based research.”

Leading GPs welcomed the findings.

Professor Simon de Lusignan, research director at the Royal College of GPs, said: “General practice is at the forefront of tackling the pandemic in the community, delivering care to those whose health has been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19. Having easily accessible medication that can help patients recover faster from COVID-19 will enhance the care we are able to deliver, close to home, where patients want it most.”

* A second study has found that the Kent variant of the virus does not increase the risk of serious illness or death, it was reported today.

The variant has been blamed for the third wave of infection that hit the UK in January and led to a new and unplanned total lockdown.

A study, reported by The Lancet, compared outcomes for 198 patients with the new variant and 143 with other variants. This found that 36% of those infected with the Kent virus became severely ill or died compared with 38% of the others.

A second analysis, from King’s College, London, reported by the Journal, will show that people with immunity from earlier infections have enjoyed protection against the Kent variant.

[PRINCIPLE results]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Elderly Health | Flu & Viruses | UK News

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