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Common asthma inhaler cuts need for coronavirus hospitalization: Oxford study

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A commonly used asthma medication could significantly reduce the need to hospitalize coronavirus patients if the treatment is given within seven days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, researchers at the British University of Oxford found in a study published on Tuesday.

Budesonide, sold under the brand name Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc and also used for treating smoker's lung, reduced the time needed for patients to recover from COVID-19 as well when given in the inhaled form, the University of Oxford said.

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The study, which involved 146 people – of whom half took 800 micrograms of Budesonide twice a day and half were on usual care, suggested that inhaled budesonide reduced the relative risk of requiring urgent care or hospitalization by 90 percent during the 28-days of the study period.

Professor Mona Bafadhel of the University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, who led the trial, said: "The vaccine programmes are really exciting, but we know that these will take some time to reach everyone across the world. I am heartened that a relatively safe, widely available and well studied medicine such as an inhaled steroid could have an impact on the pressures we are experiencing during the pandemic."

Persistent coronavirus symptoms were also reduced 14 and 28 days after treatment with budesonide.

The trial was inspired by the fact that, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, patients with chronic respiratory disease, who are often prescribed inhaled steroids, were significantly under-represented among those admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

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