A low-cost corticosteroid drug with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Corticosteroids decrease the production of chemicals that cause inflammation and reduce immune system activity. They do this by limiting the function of the white blood cells, which help fight infection. In situations where inflammatory responses are severe enough to critically damage the organs – as happens in severe cases of COVID-19 – corticosteroids can be lifesaving.
In addition to suppressing antibody production, corticosteroids reduce the movement of white blood cells to injured tissues and they cause white blood cells, which produce cytokines, to disintegrate.
WHO guidelines, based on clinical trials, strongly recommend the use of corticosteroids such as Dexamethasone be taken orally or by injection as a treatment for severe and critical COVID-19. This applies to patients whether or not they are hospitalised. It is not yet certain whether this recommendation is applicable to children, COVID-19 patients with tuberculosis, and those who are immunocompromised as these groups were underrepresented in trial studies.
The WHO suggests that corticosteroid treatments not be used to treat patients with non-severe COVID-19. This applies to whether the patient is hospitalised or not. Patients on chronic corticosteroid treatment should continue their treatment.
Corticosteroids can be administered should the condition of a person, who initially does not have severe COVID-19 symptoms, worsen.