Inhaled Budesonide Shows Promise as a Treatment of Early COVID-19

As shared in RAMP’s previous updates on emerging research related to COVID-19 and asthma, multiple early reports of patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 showed that people with asthma and other chronic respiratory disease were significantly under-represented. Some researchers have suggested that asthma might provide some protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes. On April 9, 2021, in The Lancet Respiratory Medicineresearchers, “hypothesised that the widespread use of inhaled glucocorticoids among these patients was responsible for this finding, and tested if inhaled glucocorticoids would be an effective treatment for early COVID-19.” The researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of inhaled budesonide (Pulmicort), compared with usual care, in adults within 7 days of the onset of mild COVID-19 symptoms. The findings were that inhaled budesonide “reduced the likelihood of requiring urgent care, emergency department consultation, or hospitalization. There was also a quicker resolution of fever, a known poor prognostic marker in COVID-19, and self-reported and questionnaire-reported symptom resolution was faster. There were fewer participants with persistent COVID-19 symptoms at days 14 and 28 after budesonide therapy compared with usual care.” While the authors noted some limitations in their study, the findings are exciting because budesonide is a low cost, safe, simple, and widely available therapeutic option around the world.  They noted that future research should explore whether the effect they observed is exclusive to budesonide or represents a class effect of inhaled corticosteroids. For additional information, click here.