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      Clinical evidence does not support corticosteroid treatment for 2019-nCoV lung injury

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      Elsevier Ltd.

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          Abstract

          The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a major challenge for clinicians. The clinical course of patients remains to be fully characterised, little data are available that describe the disease pathogenesis, and no pharmacological therapies of proven efficacy yet exist. Corticosteroids were widely used during the outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV 1 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV, 2 and are being used in patients with 2019-nCoV in addition to other therapeutics. 3 However, current interim guidance from WHO on clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection is suspected (released Jan 28, 2020) advises against the use of corticosteroids unless indicated for another reason. 4 Understanding the evidence for harm or benefit from corticosteroids in 2019-nCoV is of immediate clinical importance. Here we discuss the clinical outcomes of corticosteroid use in coronavirus and similar outbreaks (table ). Table Summary of clinical evidence to date Outcomes of corticosteroid therapy * Comment MERS-CoV Delayed clearance of viral RNA from respiratory tract 2 Adjusted hazard ratio 0·4 (95% CI 0·2–0·7) SARS-CoV Delayed clearance of viral RNA from blood 5 Significant difference but effect size not quantified SARS-CoV Complication: psychosis 6 Associated with higher cumulative dose, 10 975 mg vs 6780 mg hydrocortisone equivalent SARS-CoV Complication: diabetes 7 33 (35%) of 95 patients treated with corticosteroid developed corticosteroid-induced diabetes SARS-CoV Complication: avascular necrosis in survivors 8 Among 40 patients who survived after corticosteroid treatment, 12 (30%) had avascular necrosis and 30 (75%) had osteoporosis Influenza Increased mortality 9 Risk ratio for mortality 1·75 (95% CI 1·3–2·4) in a meta-analysis of 6548 patients from ten studies RSV No clinical benefit in children10, 11 No effect in largest randomised controlled trial of 600 children, of whom 305 (51%) had been treated with corticosteroids CoV=coronavirus. MERS=Middle East respiratory syndrome. RSV=respiratory syncytial virus. SARS=severe acute respiratory syndrome. * Hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, dexamethasone, and prednisolone. Acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome are partly caused by host immune responses. Corticosteroids suppress lung inflammation but also inhibit immune responses and pathogen clearance. In SARS-CoV infection, as with influenza, systemic inflammation is associated with adverse outcomes. 12 In SARS, inflammation persists after viral clearance.13, 14 Pulmonary histology in both SARS and MERS infections reveals inflammation and diffuse alveolar damage, 15 with one report suggesting haemophagocytosis. 16 Theoretically, corticosteroid treatment could have a role to suppress lung inflammation. In a retrospective observational study reporting on 309 adults who were critically ill with MERS, 2 almost half of patients (151 [49%]) were given corticosteroids (median hydrocortisone equivalent dose [ie, methylprednisolone 1:5, dexamethasone 1:25, prednisolone 1:4] of 300 mg/day). Patients who were given corticosteroids were more likely to require mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, and renal replacement therapy. After statistical adjustment for immortal time and indication biases, the authors concluded that administration of corticosteroids was not associated with a difference in 90-day mortality (adjusted odds ratio 0·8, 95% CI 0·5–1·1; p=0·12) but was associated with delayed clearance of viral RNA from respiratory tract secretions (adjusted hazard ratio 0·4, 95% CI 0·2–0·7; p=0·0005). However, these effect estimates have a high risk of error due to the probable presence of unmeasured confounders. In a meta-analysis of corticosteroid use in patients with SARS, only four studies provided conclusive data, all indicating harm. 1 The first was a case-control study of SARS patients with (n=15) and without (n=30) SARS-related psychosis; all were given corticosteroid treatment, but those who developed psychosis were given a higher cumulative dose than those who did not (10 975 mg hydrocortisone equivalent vs 6780 mg; p=0·017). 6 The second was a randomised controlled trial of 16 patients with SARS who were not critically ill; the nine patients who were given hydrocortisone (mean 4·8 days [95% CI 4·1–5·5] since fever onset) had greater viraemia in the second and third weeks after infection than those who were given 0·9% saline control. 5 The remaining two studies reported diabetes and avascular necrosis as complications associated with corticosteroid treatment.7, 8 A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis 9 identified ten observational studies in influenza, with a total of 6548 patients. The investigators found increased mortality in patients who were given corticosteroids (risk ratio [RR] 1·75, 95% CI 1·3–2·4; p=0·0002). Among other outcomes, length of stay in an intensive care unit was increased (mean difference 2·1, 95% CI 1·2–3·1; p<0·0001), as was the rate of secondary bacterial or fungal infection (RR 2·0, 95% CI 1·0–3·8; p=0·04). Corticosteroids have been investigated for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in clinical trials in children, with no conclusive evidence of benefit and are therefore not recommended. 10 An observational study of 50 adults with RSV infection, in which 33 (66%) were given corticosteroids, suggested impaired antibody responses at 28 days in those given corticosteroids. 17 Life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs in 2019-nCoV infection. 18 However, generalising evidence from acute respiratory distress syndrome studies to viral lung injury is problematic because these trials typically include a majority of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome of non-pulmonary or sterile cause. A review of treatments for acute respiratory distress syndrome of any cause, based on six studies with a total of 574 patients, 19 concluded that insufficient evidence exists to recommend corticosteroid treatment. 20 Septic shock has been reported in seven (5%) of 140 patients with 2019-nCoV included in published reports as of Jan 29, 2020.3, 18 Corticosteroids are widely used in septic shock despite uncertainty over their efficacy. Most patients in septic shock trials have bacterial infection, leading to vasoplegic shock and myocardial insufficiency.21, 22 In this group, there is potential that net benefit might be derived from steroid treatment in severe shock.21, 22 However, shock in severe hypoxaemic respiratory failure is often a consequence of increased intrathoracic pressure (during invasive ventilation) impeding cardiac filling, and not vasoplegia. 23 In this context, steroid treatment is unlikely to provide a benefit. No clinical data exist to indicate that net benefit is derived from corticosteroids in the treatment of respiratory infection due to RSV, influenza, SARS-CoV, or MERS-CoV. The available observational data suggest increased mortality and secondary infection rates in influenza, impaired clearance of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and complications of corticosteroid therapy in survivors. If it is present, the effect of steroids on mortality in those with septic shock is small, and is unlikely to be generalisable to shock in the context of severe respiratory failure due to 2019-nCoV. Overall, no unique reason exists to expect that patients with 2019-nCoV infection will benefit from corticosteroids, and they might be more likely to be harmed with such treatment. We conclude that corticosteroid treatment should not be used for the treatment of 2019-nCoV-induced lung injury or shock outside of a clinical trial.

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          Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

          Summary Background A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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            Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study

            Summary Background In December, 2019, a pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) emerged in Wuhan, China. We aimed to further clarify the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Methods In this retrospective, single-centre study, we included all confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital from Jan 1 to Jan 20, 2020. Cases were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR and were analysed for epidemiological, demographic, clinical, and radiological features and laboratory data. Outcomes were followed up until Jan 25, 2020. Findings Of the 99 patients with 2019-nCoV pneumonia, 49 (49%) had a history of exposure to the Huanan seafood market. The average age of the patients was 55·5 years (SD 13·1), including 67 men and 32 women. 2019-nCoV was detected in all patients by real-time RT-PCR. 50 (51%) patients had chronic diseases. Patients had clinical manifestations of fever (82 [83%] patients), cough (81 [82%] patients), shortness of breath (31 [31%] patients), muscle ache (11 [11%] patients), confusion (nine [9%] patients), headache (eight [8%] patients), sore throat (five [5%] patients), rhinorrhoea (four [4%] patients), chest pain (two [2%] patients), diarrhoea (two [2%] patients), and nausea and vomiting (one [1%] patient). According to imaging examination, 74 (75%) patients showed bilateral pneumonia, 14 (14%) patients showed multiple mottling and ground-glass opacity, and one (1%) patient had pneumothorax. 17 (17%) patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and, among them, 11 (11%) patients worsened in a short period of time and died of multiple organ failure. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection was of clustering onset, is more likely to affect older males with comorbidities, and can result in severe and even fatal respiratory diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome. In general, characteristics of patients who died were in line with the MuLBSTA score, an early warning model for predicting mortality in viral pneumonia. Further investigation is needed to explore the applicability of the MuLBSTA score in predicting the risk of mortality in 2019-nCoV infection. Funding National Key R&D Program of China.
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              SARS: Systematic Review of Treatment Effects

              Introduction The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a febrile respiratory illness primarily transmitted by respiratory droplets or close personal contact. A global outbreak of SARS between March 2003 and July 2003 caused over 8,000 probable or confirmed cases and 774 deaths [1]. The causative organism has been identified as a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV) [2–4]. The overall mortality during the outbreak was estimated at 9.6% [5,6]. The overriding clinical feature of SARS is the rapidity with which many patients develop symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This complication occurred in approximately 16% of all patients with SARS, and when it occurred was associated with a mortality rate of 50% [7,8]. At the time of the SARS epidemic it was not known what treatments would reduce SARS-related illness and deaths. Because the urgency of the international outbreak did not allow time for efficacy studies, physicians in Canada and Hong Kong treated the earliest patients with intravenous ribavirin, based on its broad-spectrum antiviral activity [9,10]. Corticosteroids and immune-modulating agents were often prescribed empirically. Soon after SARS-CoV was identified as the causative agent, antiviral screening programs were initiated; these programs reported several antiviral agents that inhibited SARS-CoV replication in vitro. These results led to the experimental use of protease inhibitors and interferon alpha (IFN-α) in the treatment of patients. The most commonly used treatments for SARS are associated with adverse effects when used for other conditions (Table S1). In October 2003, the WHO established an International SARS Treatment Study Group, consisting of experts experienced in managing SARS. The group recommended a systematic review of potential treatment options to identify the targets for proper evaluation in trials should the disease recur [11]. This paper reports on this systematic review designed to summarise available evidence on the effects of ribavirin, lopinavir and ritonavir (LPV/r), corticosteroids, type I IFN, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), or convalescent plasma in relation to (1) SARS-CoV replication inhibition in vitro; (2) mortality or morbidity in SARS patients; and (3) effects on ARDS in adult patients. Methods We prepared a protocol that defined our scope, inclusion criteria, and outcomes to be assessed. The interventions we included were defined by the WHO: ribavirin, LPV/r, corticosteroids, type I IFN, convalescent plasma, or IVIG. The types of study we included were: (1) in vitro studies, in which the authors examined inhibition of SARS-CoV viral replication, and data from an assay in human or animal cell line; (2) in vivo studies, which included randomised controlled trial (RCT), or prospective uncontrolled study design, or retrospective cohort design, or case-control design, or a case series, and patients treated for SARS, and ten or more patients; and (3) studies of ARDS that included RCT, or systematic review, and treatment for ARDS or acute lung injury, and 20 or more patients. In February 2005, we systematically searched the literature databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) for articles that included the selected treatments (Table S2). The full text of each identified study was retrieved and each was independently reviewed by two authors (LS and RB). Publications in Chinese were selected after review of the English abstract. Unpublished data were not sought, as the task of summarising existing published data was extensive and the International SARS Treatment Group indicated that much of the clinical data had already been published. We used the QUOROM checklist to help ensure the quality of this review (Table S3). Data from the full text of studies in English were extracted independently by two authors (LS and RB). Data from the Chinese literature were extracted with the assistance of a translator. Because the Chinese articles were reviewed by only one author, the consistency of the translated information with that from English articles was maintained by subsequent discussion with the translator to verify the extracted data. We established explicit criteria to assess the level of evidence for each human treatment study (Box 1). Since the treatments chosen for evaluation were often given in combination, evidence was classified by the treatment that was given to all patients in the cohort or given to some with the author's intention of studying its effects. If putative effects within a study included several drugs, then we extracted data for each intervention. The level of evidence was independently classified by two authors (LS and RB). Chinese studies were appraised and classified in the same way using translated information extracted from each report. Discrepancies were resolved by consensus. Box 1. Categories of Evidence Defined for In Vivo Studies of Treatments in SARS Patients “Inconclusive” if a study could not be used to inform a decision about treatment efficacy due to having either outcomes which were not reported consistently, an inconsistent treatment regimen, no control group or a control group which was a likely source of bias. A control group was considered a likely source of bias if there were differences in co-morbidities, sex, age and markers of severe disease compared to the treatment group. “Possible harm” if a study reported adverse effects of treatment that were consistent with adverse effects reported with the use of the drug in the treatment of other conditions. Evidence of direct causality was not required. A study could be classified as suggesting possible harm from the drug even if the study had methodological weaknesses. “Possible benefit” if a study had evidence of benefit for an important outcome measure which was recorded consistently (e.g., case fatality, need for mechanical ventilation, duration of hospitalization, frequency of ARDS) in patients treated in a defined way compared to a valid control group. A control group was considered valid if randomized, or if patient characteristics and illness severity were comparable to the treatment group. Evidence of direct causality was not required. “Definite harm” if a study contained statistically significant evidence of harm demonstrated in a double-blind randomized trial, which did not contain serious methodological weaknesses. “Definite benefit” if a study contained statistically significant evidence of harm demonstrated in a double-blind randomized trial, which did not contain serious methodological weaknesses. Results In vitro evidence was available in 15 studies. Clinical evidence of SARS treatment in humans was reported in 54 studies (37 in English, 17 in Chinese). Three studies addressed treatment of ARDS (Figure 1). Ribavirin In vitro. We found six studies that described the antiviral effect of ribavirin in vitro (Table S4); four showed an antiviral effect (Table S5). A synergistic antiviral effect between ribavirin and type I IFN (IFN-β1a or leukocytic IFN-α) was described in two studies performed in human cell lines and Vero cell lines [12,13]. In SARS patients. We found 24 studies that described ribavirin treatment in cohorts larger than ten patients (Table S6). Our formal assessment classified 20 studies as “inconclusive,” due to study design or because the effect of ribavirin could not be distinguished from the effects of other treatments (such as steroids and antiviral drugs). Four publications presented evidence of possible harm (14–17). Three of these studies, each of which included over 100 patients, documented a fall in haemoglobin levels after ribavirin treatment when compared to levels in patients before treatment [14–16]. Of patients treated with ribavirin, 49/138 to 67/110 (36%–61%) developed haemolytic anaemia, a recognised complication with this drug, although it is not possible to rule out the possibility that SARS-CoV infection caused the haemolytic anaemia, as there is no control group. One study noted that over 29% of SARS patients had some degree of liver dysfunction indicated by ALT levels higher than normal, and the number of patients with this complication increased to over 75% after ribavirin treatment (Table S7) [17]. In the Chinese literature six additional reports described patients with SARS treated with ribavirin (often with steroids). These six reports were determined to be inconclusive in the evaluation of treatment for SARS (Tables S8 and S9). LPV/r In vitro. Of three studies, two demonstrated that lopinavir inhibits cytopathic effects of SARS-CoV in fetal rhesus monkey kidney cells (Table S4). One study showed detectable but reduced activity in Vero-E6 cells [13], and one study concluded that neither lopinavir nor ritonavir had an effect [18]. A synergistic effect of lopinavir with ribavirin has been reported (Table S5). In SARS patients. We found two studies of LPV/r (lopinavir 400 mg with ritonavir 100 mg orally every 12 h) in cohorts larger than ten patients (Table S6). Patients also received ribavirin and corticosteroids. LPV/r use was compared among three groups of patients: those who received it as an early SARS treatment, those who received it as a late treatment, and those who did not receive it at all. When LPV/r was added as an initial treatment to ribavirin and corticosteroid therapy, the death rate was lower than among those who received ribavirin and corticosteroids (1/44 [2.3%] versus 99/634 [15.6%]; p < 0.05) [19]. A second study of this regimen reported fewer episodes of ARDS or death compared with historical controls who had not received LPV/r (1/41 [2.4%] versus 32/111 [28.8%]; p < 0.001) (Table S7) [20]. Both studies were determined to be inconclusive due to possible bias in the selection of control group or treatment allocation. No additional studies were identified from the Chinese literature. Corticosteroids In vitro. No studies were found on the cytopathic effect of corticosteroids alone against SARS-CoV. Corticosteroids act as immunomodulatory agents, and therefore studies to measure direct antiviral effects in vitro were not expected. In SARS patients. Fifteen articles examined corticosteroid treatment in ten or more patients. Of these cohorts 13 were also treated with ribavirin (Table S6). We determined that 13 of the 15 studies were inconclusive. Of these, in an uncontrolled and nonrandomised study, 95/107 (89%) of patients treated with high-dose methylprednisolone (0.5–1 mg/kg prednisolone on day 3 of illness, followed by hydrocortisolone 100 mg every 8 h, and pulse-doses of methylprednisolone 0.5 g IV for 3 d) after the first week of illness recovered from progressive lung disease (Table S7) [16]. Two studies contained evidence of possible harm from corticosteroids [21,22]. One measured SARS-CoV plasma viral load across time after fever onset in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial; corticosteroid use within the first week of illness was associated with delayed viral clearance. The other study, which was case-controlled, found that patients with psychosis received higher cumulative doses of steroids than patients without psychosis (10,975 mg versus 6,780 mg; p = 0.017) [22]. In the Chinese literature, we found 14 reports in which steroids were used (Table S8 and Table S9). Twelve studies were inconclusive and two showed possible harm. One study reported diabetes onset associated with methylprednisolone treatment [23]. Another study (an uncontrolled, retrospective study of 40 SARS patients) reported avascular necrosis and osteoporosis among corticosteroid-treated SARS patients [24]. In ARDS patients. Three clinical trials examined the effect of corticosteroids on mortality in patients with established ARDS (Table S10). In two trials, high-dose methylprednisolone given for approximately 2 d was not effective for early ARDS [25,26]. One small RCT that used a regimen of lower dose methylprednisolone (2 mg/kg per day), tapered after 2 wk, showed possible evidence of ARDS improvement (Table S11) [27]. IFN Type I In vitro. Twelve in vitro studies with data on the antiviral effect of IFN type I have been reported, and all demonstrated an antiviral effect against SARS-CoV (six for IFN-α and ten for IFN-β) (Tables S4 and S5). Antiviral effects have been demonstrated in monkey (Vero; Vero-E6), fetal rhesus monkey kidney (fRhK-4), and human (Caco2, CL14, and HPEK) cell lines. Three reports presented evidence that IFN-β was superior against SARS-CoV compared to IFN-α and found rIFN-α2 virtually ineffective against SARS-CoV compared to other IFNs [28]. Synergistic effects were reported for leukocytic IFN-α with ribavirin [13], IFN-β with ribavirin [12,13] and IFN-β with IFN-γ [28,29]. In SARS patients. Two studies of IFN-α given with steroids and/or ribavirin were reported (Table S6). No significant difference was seen in outcome between IFN-α treatment group and those treated with other regimens. Results of both studies were inconclusive due to a lack of a consistent treatment regimen or suitable control group (Table S7). In the Chinese literature, one additional study reported the use of IFN-α as part of a regimen that included ribavirin and steroids [30]. We determined this study to be inconclusive because a variety of treatments given masked the effect of IFN-α alone (Table S8 and Table S9). Convalescent Plasma or Immunoglobulin In vitro. No studies were found on the cytopathic effect of this treatment on SARS-CoV. Convalescent plasma and IVIG act as immunomodulatory agents and therefore studies to measure direct antiviral effects in vitro were not expected. In SARS patients. Five studies of either IVIG or convalescent plasma treatment given in addition to steroids and ribavirin were reported for treatment of SARS (Table S6). These studies were inconclusive, because the effect of convalescent plasma or IVIG could not be discerned from effects of patient comorbidities, stage of illness, or effect of other treatments (Table S7). In the Chinese literature, two additional studies reported evidence on the effect of convalescent plasma as a treatment for SARS [30,31]. These studies were inconclusive (Table S8 and Table S9). Evidence collected on the benefit or harm of drugs used to treat SARS is summarized in Table 1. Discussion The rapid spread and subsequent control of SARS precluded controlled clinical treatment trials during the outbreak of 2002–2003. In this report we summarize the results of a systematic evaluation of the findings from published reports of treatments used for SARS during the epidemic. Publications from the Chinese literature were included to capture as much evidence as possible. We developed specific criteria (Box 1) to look for large, obvious effects of benefit, adverse or poor outcomes, or evidence of potential benefit that could be used to prioritise future research of SARS treatments. A summary of this evidence in SARS patients is shown in Table 1. Despite thirty reports of SARS-infected patients treated with ribavirin, there is no convincing evidence that it led to recovery. Haemolytic anaemia, a recognized side effect of this treatment, was observed in three studies. We would infer from these findings that any future use of ribavirin for SARS should be within the context of a controlled trial with close attention given to adverse effects. Corticosteroids were commonly prescribed to SARS patients with worsening pulmonary disease or progressing abnormalities on chest X-rays. Treatment regimens varied widely but can be classified into two groups, early treatment and rescue treatment given at a later stage of illness. It is difficult to make a clear recommendation about whether corticosteroids should be used to treat SARS-associated lung injury in any stage of illness, particularly as the drug is immunosuppressive and may delay viral clearance if given before viral replication is controlled [21]. Of added concern are infectious complications, avascular necrosis, and steroid-induced psychosis—recognized adverse effects of corticosteroid use. Fungal superinfection and aspergillosis have been noted in case reports and autopsy findings of SARS patients given corticosteroids at high doses or for prolonged periods [32,33]. This review has found evidence of avascular necrosis and steroid-induced psychosis in SARS patients. Seven studies of treatment with convalescent plasma or IVIG, three with IFN type I, and two with LPV/r were inconclusive by the criteria used in our analyses. Authors of four of the IVIG studies commented that patients seemed to improve upon treatment, but that more controlled trials of this approach are needed to provide evidence of an effect for SARS. Important caveats should be considered in this review. Most of the studies of SARS patients were descriptions of the natural course of the disease and had not been designed to reliably assess the effects of the treatments used. Patient characteristics such as age and presence of diabetes mellitus have been associated with severe disease and can confound treatment effects. A diagnostic test for early SARS illness was not validated or widely available, and in general, treatment was initiated once patients fulfilled a clinical and epidemiological case definition. It is possible that the inclusion of patients without laboratory confirmation of SARS-CoV infection in this review could cause an underestimate of any true effect of antiviral treatment on SARS. The variation in treatment regimens—particularly the wide range in doses, duration of therapy, and route of administration of ribavirin and corticosteroids—is a major obstacle to a clear interpretation of the data in this review. The nonstandardised collection of clinical information limits the conclusions that can be drawn from a retrospective analysis. We suggest that, in the event of a future outbreak of SARS-CoV or another novel agent, attempts be made to develop treatment protocols and to collect and contribute information for a standardized minimum dataset that could facilitate analysis of treatment outcomes among different settings. As observational studies pose problems of interpretation, the need is great for good-quality randomised trials, despite the difficulties in organising such trials. Supporting Information Table S1 Rationale for Treatments and Recognized Adverse Effects (55 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S2 Method of Systematic Review (A) Search strategy, step 1: Select the treatments. (B) Search strategy, step 2: Narrow the scope. (C) Inclusion criteria and information sought from each study. (45 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S3 QUOROM Statement (50 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S4 Description of SARS-CoV Replication Studies: Assay Type and Outcomes Measured (79 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S5 Results from SARS-CoV Replication Studies: Inhibition of SARS-CoV Replication (84 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S6 Description of Studies within SARS Patients (186 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S7 Results of Treatment within SARS Patients (English literature) (183 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S8 Description of Studies of SARS Patients (Chinese Literature) (108 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S9 Results of Treatment within SARS Patients (Chinese Literature) (93 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S10 Description of Studies of ARDS or ALI (50 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file. Table S11 Results of Treatment of ARDS or ALI (48 KB DOC) Click here for additional data file.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Lancet
                Lancet
                Lancet (London, England)
                Elsevier Ltd.
                0140-6736
                1474-547X
                7 February 2020
                15-21 February 2020
                7 February 2020
                : 395
                : 10223
                : 473-475
                Affiliations
                [a ]University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research, The Queen's Medical Research Institute Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
                [b ]Genetics and Genomics, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK
                Article
                S0140-6736(20)30317-2
                10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30317-2
                7134694
                32043983
                5edd6f19-7ac5-4a6c-980a-f3914deff178
                © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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