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Corticosteroids and Other Treatments Administered to Children Tested for SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Emergency Departments.



We sought to determine if corticosteroid administration is associated with a SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test-positive result and to describe therapies administered to SARS-CoV-2 infected children.


We collected cross-sectional data from participants recruited in 41 pediatric emergency departments (ED) in 10 countries between March 2020 and June 2021. Participants were <18 years old, had signs or symptoms of, or risk factors for acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, and had nucleic acid testing performed. To determine if SARS-CoV-2 test status was independently associated with corticosteroid administration, we used a multivariable conditional logistic regression model matched by study site to compare treatments administered based on SARS-CoV-2 test and disposition status. This analysis was repeated for the subgroup of study participants who were hospitalized.


30.3% (3,121/10,315) of participants were SARS-CoV-2-positive. Although remdesivir was more commonly administered to SARS-CoV-2-positive children, use was infrequent (25/3120 [0.8%] vs 1/7188 [0.01%]; P = .001). Corticosteroid use was less common among SARS-CoV-2-positive children (219/3120 [7.0%] vs 759/7190 [10.6%]; P < .001). Among hospitalized children, there were no differences in provision of inotropes, respiratory support, chest drainage or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation between groups. Corticosteroid administration was associated with age, history of asthma, wheezing, study month, hospitalization and intensive care unit admission; it was not associated with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result overall (aOR: 0.91; 95%CI: 0.74, 1.12) or among the subgroup of those hospitalized (aOR: 1.04; 95%CI: 0.75, 1.44).


Few disease-specific treatments are provided to SARS-CoV-2-positive children; clinical trials evaluating therapies in children are urgently needed.

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