Impact of Early Corticosteroids on Preventing Clinical Deterioration in Non-critically Ill Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19: A Multi-hospital Cohort Study

Infect Dis Ther. 2022 Apr;11(2):887-898. doi: 10.1007/s40121-022-00615-x. Epub 2022 Mar 10.


Introduction: While guidelines stronglyrecommend dexamethasone in critical COVID-19, the optimal threshold to initiate corticosteroids in non-critically ill patients with COVID-19 remains unclear. Using data from a state-wide COVID-19 registry, we evaluated the effectiveness of early corticosteroids for preventing clinical deterioration among non-critically ill patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and receiving non-invasive oxygen therapy.

Methods: This was a target trial using observational data from patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at 39 hospitals participating in the MI-COVID19 registry between March 16, 2020 and August 24, 2020. We studied the impact of corticosteroids initiated within 2 calendar days of hospitalization ("early steroids") versus no early steroids among non-ICU patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV2 receiving non-invasive supplemental oxygen therapy. Our primary outcome was a composite of in-hospital mortality, transfer to intensive care, and receipt of invasive mechanical ventilation. We used inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) and propensity score-weighted regression to measure the association of early steroids and outcomes.

Results: Among 1002 patients meeting study criteria, 231 (23.1%) received early steroids. After IPTW, to balance potential confounders between the treatment groups, early steroids were not associated with a decrease in the composite outcome (aOR 1.1, 95%CI 0.8-1.6) or in any components of the primary outcome.

Conclusion: We found no evidence that early corticosteroid therapy prevents clinical deterioration among hospitalized non-critically ill COVID-19 patients receiving non-invasive oxygen therapy. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal threshold for initiating corticosteroids in this population.

Keywords: COVID-19 therapeutics; Corticosteroid therapy; SARS-COV2; Viral infections.