HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In the fight against COVID-19, new research suggests inexpensive steroids could be the key to saving the lives of critically ill patients.
The World Health Organization released new guidelines Wednesday encouraging doctors to use steroids to help those patients.
Health officials said what makes these clinical trials so promising is that a patient with the most severe case of COVID-19 can be saved with these inexpensive drugs that are already on the market.
"Basically most steroids in the market right now are generic," Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease expert at UT Health and Memorial Hermann, said. "(They're) inexpensive. They are easy to give, and that's the ideal situation."
The study analyzed data from a pool of seven random clinical trials. The trials looked at three different steroids in over 1,700 patients and found each of the three drugs improved survival rates in severely ill patients.
The World Health Organization recommends steroids for patients with severe or a critical case of COVID-19. Steroid treatment is not recommended for patients with only mild cases.
Ostrosky said most COVID-19 patients don't die from the virus but instead, they die from the body's overreaction to the infection. He said that's where steroids can help.
"So, it turns out steroids are the right drug," Ostrosky said. "So they need to be given at the right time. Not too early because they will hamper the response of the body to the infection. But, not too late because at that point there is already a lot of inflammation."