Over-the-counter inhalers suppress severe COVID symptoms

Over-the-counter inhalers suppress severe COVID symptoms. By Stuart Layt.

Researchers say their clinical trial using a cheap asthma inhaler to prevent COVID-19 patients developing severe symptoms has produced “incredible” results. …

Patients in the trial, conducted in Britain and led by researchers from Australia, were given simple over-the-counter steroid inhalers when they presented at hospital with symptoms of the disease.

QUT associate professor Dan Nicolau, one of the lead researchers on the trial at the University of Oxford, said the results showed the method was extremely effective at preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

“When we first began the trial back in March [2020], we were hoping for 50 per cent reduction [in risk of developing serious symptoms], which itself would have been very high,” he said.

“We got 90 per cent, which even with only a few hundred people is off the charts.

“And it’s not just the overall result — their temperatures are less, they get less fever, and they recover faster.”

Professor Nicolau said they realised in the early stages of the pandemic that people with asthma were under-represented in severe and fatal cases of COVID-19.

They hypothesised that the use of steroid inhalers, which suppress immune response in the lungs, could have a beneficial effect on COVID-19 patients who often suffered lung damage due to overactive immune response to the disease.

The trial wrapped up recently, with the strong early results independently assessed to be sufficient with no need to continue. …

“It reaches a point where it’s no longer ethical, so we stopped [the trial] about two-thirds of the way through.” …

“I think people have to make up their own minds, and individual physicians will make their own decisions, but I think we’ve shown that anyone who presents with COVID symptoms should be given a steroid inhaler.” …

“These pandemics are now coming every five years or so, and this treatment should work for the next one, because hyper-inflammation is not particular to COVID, it happens with all respiratory infections.”