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BACKGROUND Inhaled budesonide has shown efficacy for treating COVID-19 in the community but has not yet been tested in effectiveness trials. METHODS We performed a multicenter, open-label, multi-arm, adaptive platform randomized controlled trial involving people aged ≥65 years, or ≥50 years with comorbidities, and unwell ≤14 days with suspected COVID-19 in the community (PRINCIPLE). Participants were randomized to usual care, usual care plus inhaled budesonide (800μg twice daily for 14 days), or usual care plus other interventions. The co-primary endpoints are time to first self-reported recovery, and hospitalization/death related to COVID-19, both measured over 28 days from randomisation and analysed using Bayesian models. RESULTS The trial opened on April 2, 2020. Randomization to inhaled budesonide began on November 27, 2020 and was stopped on March 31, 2021 based on an interim analysis using data from March 4, 2021. Here, we report updated interim analysis data from March 25, 2021, at which point the trial had randomized 4663 participants with suspected COVID-19. Of these, 2617 (56.1%) tested SARS-CoV-2 positive and contributed data to this interim budesonide primary analysis; 751 budesonide, 1028 usual care and 643 to other interventions. Time to first self-reported recovery was shorter in the budesonide group compared to usual care (hazard ratio 1.208 [95% BCI 1.076 - 1.356], probability of superiority 0.999, estimated benefit [95% BCI] of 3.011 [1.134 - 5.41] days). Among those in the interim budesonide primary analysis who had the opportunity to contribute data for 28 days follow up, there were 59/692 (8.5%) COVID-19 related hospitalizations/deaths in the budesonide group vs 100/968 (10.3%) in the usual care group (estimated percentage benefit, 2.1% [95% BCI -0.7% - 4.8%], probability of superiority 0.928). CONCLUSIONS In this updated interim analysis, inhaled budesonide reduced time to recovery by a median of 3 days in people with COVID-19 with risk factors for adverse outcomes. Once 28 day follow up is complete for all participants randomized to budesonide, final analyses of time to recovery and hospitalization/death will be published. (Funded by the National Institute of Health Research/ United Kingdom Research Innovation [MC_PC_19079]; PRINCIPLE ISRCTN number, ISRCTN86534580.)

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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