BACKGROUND Corticosteroids are widely used in patients with COVID 19, although their benefit-to-risk ratio remains controversial.METHODS Patients with severe COVID-19–related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) were included from December 29, 2019 to March 16, 2020 in 5 tertiary Chinese hospitals. Cox proportional hazards and competing risks analyses were conducted to analyze the impact of corticosteroids on mortality and SARS–CoV-2 RNA clearance, respectively. We performed a propensity score (PS) matching analysis to control confounding factors.RESULTS Of 774 eligible patients, 409 patients received corticosteroids, with a median time from hospitalization to starting corticosteroids of 1.0 day (IQR 0.0–3.0 days) . As compared with usual care, treatment with corticosteroids was associated with increased rate of myocardial (15.6% vs. 10.4%, P = 0.041) and liver injury (18.3% vs. 9.9%, P = 0.001), of shock (22.0% vs. 12.6%, P < 0.001), of need for mechanical ventilation (38.1% vs. 19.5%, P < 0.001), and increased rate of 28-day all-cause mortality (44.3% vs. 31.0%, P < 0.001). After PS matching, corticosteroid therapy was associated with 28-day mortality (adjusted HR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01–2.13, P = 0.045). High dose (>200 mg) and early initiation (≤3 days from hospitalization) of corticosteroid therapy were associated with a higher 28-day mortality rate. Corticosteroid use was also associated with a delay in SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance in the competing risk analysis (subhazard ratio 1.59, 95% CI 1.17–2.15, P = 0.003).CONCLUSION Administration of corticosteroids in severe COVID-19–related ARDS is associated with increased 28-day mortality and delayed SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus RNA clearance after adjustment for time-varying confounders.FUNDING None.
Jiao Liu, Sheng Zhang, Xuan Dong, Zhongyi Li, Qianghong Xu, Huibin Feng, Jing Cai, Sisi Huang, Jun Guo, Lidi Zhang, Yizhu Chen, Wei Zhu, Hangxiang Du, Yongan Liu, Tao Wang, Limin Chen, Zhenliang Wen, Djillali Annane, Jieming Qu, Dechang Chen