The Australian

Asthma drug offers hope for faster healing from virus

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A widely used asthma drug is the first treatment proven to speed the recovery of COVID19 patients who stay at home.

Budesonide, which is taken through an inhaler, cut the time it took higher-risk patients to feel better by an average of three days and reduced the chances of a relapse.

The Oxford University trial recruited people with coronaviru­s who were either over 50 with an underlying health condition or over 65.

“For the first time we have high-quality evidence of an effective treatment that can be rolled out across the community for people who are at most risk of developing more severe illness from COVID-19,” Professor Richard Hobbs said.

“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.”

The findings were based on 751 patients who were asked to take 400 micrograms of inhaled budesonide at home, twice a day, for two weeks. They were compared with a control group of 1028 patients. Among the budesonide group, 8.5 per cent were admitted to hospital, compared with 10.3 per cent in the usual care group.

Budesonide is a corticoste­roid often prescribed for asthma. It helps to reduce inflammati­on and can ease breathing difficulti­es.

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