'Steroids to COVID patients who don't require oxygen may increase severity'

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh has noted that the seriousness of the COVID patients coming to hospitals has surged recently. One of the reasons observed behind the surge is the indiscriminate use of steroids in the cases of COVID-19 at an initial stage, the institute stated on Thursday. "It has been observed by experts here at PGIMER that indiscriminate use of steroids in mild or initial stages of COVID disease can exaggerate the infection and may increase the severity of the disease," it said. The institute also cautioned over the use of steroids only under clinical watch. The institute said that its experts had recommended not to use steroids for patients who do not require oxygen therapy. "They (steroids) should not be used indiscriminately and without any valid indication," it said. "Steroids should be started in COVID patients only when they require oxygen therapy and that also preferably after admission to the hospital under the supervision of an experienced physician," the institute cautioned. However, the statement by PGIMER is more of an advisory than observation. As per Prof G.D. Puri, Dean Academics & Head Deptt of Anesthesia & Intensive Care, the institute had arrived at the observation largely on the basis of an already published study. "No study was conducted by us (PGIMER). We have stated our observation regarding the use of steroids based on an already published research," he told IANS. Meanwhile, the premier institute also cited 'Recovery Trial', the study of Dexamethasone, a steroid, conducted in the United Kingdom (UK) in March, to reinforce their observation. "Even the 'Recovery Trial' published from England has shown that steroids given in early stages of COVID-19, i.e. when a patient does not require oxygen, can increase the mortality and morbidity of the COVID patients. Hence, it is advisable not to use these drugs," the institute stated.

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