PURPOSE: We compared dexamethasone 12 versus 6 mg daily for up to 10 days in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and severe hypoxaemia in the international, randomised, blinded COVID STEROID 2 trial. In the primary, conventional analyses, the predefined statistical significance thresholds were not reached. We conducted a pre-planned Bayesian analysis to facilitate probabilistic interpretation.
METHODS: We analysed outcome data within 90 days in the intention-to-treat population (data available in 967 to 982 patients) using Bayesian models with various sensitivity analyses. Results are presented as median posterior probabilities with 95% credible intervals (CrIs) and probabilities of different effect sizes with 12 mg dexamethasone.
RESULTS: The adjusted mean difference on days alive without life support at day 28 (primary outcome) was 1.3 days (95% CrI -0.3 to 2.9; 94.2% probability of benefit). Adjusted relative risks and probabilities of benefit on serious adverse reactions was 0.85 (0.63 to 1.16; 84.1%) and on mortality 0.87 (0.73 to 1.03; 94.8%) at day 28 and 0.88 (0.75 to 1.02; 95.1%) at day 90. Probabilities of benefit on days alive without life support and days alive out of hospital at day 90 were 85 and 95.7%, respectively. Results were largely consistent across sensitivity analyses, with relatively low probabilities of clinically important harm with 12 mg on all outcomes in all analyses.
CONCLUSION: We found high probabilities of benefit and low probabilities of clinically important harm with dexamethasone 12 mg versus 6 mg daily in patients with COVID-19 and severe hypoxaemia on all outcomes up to 90 days.