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Common Asthma Drug May Help People Fight COVID: 'It Should Reduce Hospitalizations by Around Half'

09-08-2020
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Common Asthma Drug May Help People in Early Stages of COVID

Scientists are looking into whether a drug commonly used by people with asthma and other breathing conditions can also be used to successfully treat COVID-19.  The drug could prevent patients in the early stages of the disease from landing in the hospital.

Ever since COVID-19 burst on the scene in early 2020, scientists saw right away it goes for the lungs.  Then came a surprise when they saw that people being treated for certain lung diseases seemed oddly protected against the coronavirus.  These COVID-19 patients were people with asthma and the lung disease COPD and were living in Asia, Europe, North America, and elsewhere. Scientists noticed they were either underrepresented or completely absent from data surrounding pandemic cases, according to researcher Dan Nicolau of The Queensland University of Technology.

"Which suggests that something these patients are doing is keeping them out of hospital," he told CBN News. "It's not keeping them from getting COVID but it's keeping them, at least in some of the cases, keeping them from getting very sick."

Apparently, these patients who contracted COVID-19 were already using an inhaled corticosteroid, such as Budesonide, to treat their asthma or COPD.  Nicolau leads a clinical study being conducted by QUT and Oxford University testing Budesonide's effectiveness when given very soon after a person becomes infected with the novel coronavirus. 

"It should reduce hospitalizations in our math model, by around half," said professor Nicolau.

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Unwilling to wait for study results, some doctors have begun prescribing inhaled Budesonide to patients who were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, such as Dr. Ted Trimble, who practices family medicine at Titus Regional Medical Center near Dallas, Texas.

"I can't do medicine without my faith. I often say to my patients upfront, 'I consult Dr. Jesus'," he told CBN News.

Dr. Trimble said he's prescribed Budesonide to ten COVID-19 patients with plans to continue. 

"Nine out of ten did extremely well within the first few treatments," he explained. "They could breathe much easier, one needed to go to the hospital for oxygen support but did not require intubation or ventilation."

Likewise, Dr. Tom Rogers, an integrative medicine specialist who practices in the Knoxville, Tennessee area has also seen positive results in 11 patients and counting. 
 
"I started using it with no side effects and it seems to be if you treat early along with a Z-pack and zinc it really is very effective," he told CBN News.

Dr. Rogers gives the Budesonide specifically to COVID-19 patients with respiratory symptoms like a mild cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath. In cases where patients exhibit different common symptoms such as loss of smell, achiness, or fatigue, Rogers usually prescribes the controversial drug Hydroxychloroquine with the antibiotic Azithromycin, also known as a "Z-pack", and zinc. 

"I am a Christian and my faith really carries me through every day caring for people all these years," he said, adding, "There's another very powerful thing that works against any disease or illness. It's called prayer."

While the US Food and Drug Administration does not recommend Budesonide or Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, there has been movement.  FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D. now admits some Hydroxychloroquine studies "suggest a benefit" and pointed out doctors are free to prescribe drugs "off label" and that the FDA "does not regulate the practice of medicine."

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