Asthma Australia is calling for all Australians to have a plan. If you have a plan, you can take decisive steps to be as safe and well as possible in case of COVID-19 infection.
What’s your plan if you get COVID-19?
Contact your doctor:
- Are you eligible for anti-viral medicines?
- Do you have an Asthma Action Plan?
- Do you need scripts for your asthma medicines?
Do you have:
- Hand sanitiser?
Contact your family/loved ones
- Have they been close contacts
- Can they help you with supplies or changes to your or your family routines
- Who can talk to if you’re worried about your health?
Treatments are now available to treat COVID-19 in the community, including some asthma medicines. Many of these are designed for people who may be more likely to get severe COVID-19 illness and go to hospital. They must be used in the first few days of illness. When used early, these medicines can help prevent some people from developing more severe symptoms of COVID-19. You can speak to your doctor about your COVID-19 risk level to see if you qualify for these medicines.
What asthma medicines can help with COVID-19?
Budesonide (Pulmicort) and Ciclesonide (Alvesco)
Budesonide (Pulmicort) and ciclesonide (Alvesco) are common inhalers that are also used as asthma preventers. They can also prevent some people from getting severe COVID-19 symptoms.
- Budesonide is available in a Turbuhaler (see how to use it here)
- Ciclesonide is available in a puffer (preferably used with a spacer) (see how to use it here)
- They must be started within 14 days of getting COVID-19
For asthma, budesonide or ciclesonide are daily preventers that are continued long term. If you’re already using these medicines, DO NOT increase or adjust your prescription medicines such as your asthma preventer without advice from your doctor. Discuss with your doctor whether you need to adjust your dose if you contract COVID-19.
If you need help using either of these medicines, you can call our Asthma Educators on 1800ASTHMA (1800 278 462). Even if you do not have asthma, we are happy to help!
What are the benefits?
- Research showed that using these medicines in the first 14 days of COVID-19 infection probably reduced the need to go to hospital.
- If people taking these medicines did end up in hospital, these medicines probably helped reduce the severity of illness. The people who were using these medicines needed less extra oxygen than people who weren’t.
What if I have asthma and already use a preventer?
People with asthma already using a preventer should continue with its use as prescribed.
If a person with asthma is not already using an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) preventer, it is recommended to discuss the use of one if diagnosed with COVID-19. It will probably reduce the severity of the infection.
People who don’t have asthma should also discuss this option with their doctor, immediately after confirming their COVID-19 diagnosis
Who may take it?
Budesonide or ciclesonide are recommended for people more likely to get severe COVID-19 such as:
- Adults aged 65 years and over
- Adults aged 50 and over with one of the following conditions
- Asthma or lung disease
- Diabetes (not treated with insulin)
- Mild hepatic impairment
- Heart disease and/or hypertension
- Stroke or other neurological problem
- Weakened immune system due to a serious illness or medication (e.g. chemotherapy)
- Children and adolescents with risk factors for severe COVID-19 such as:
- Severe asthma
- Paediatric Complex Chronic Conditions (PCCC): congenital and genetic, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, malignancies, metabolic, neuromuscular, renal and respiratory conditions
If you test positive for COVID-19 book an urgent telehealth consultation with your doctor to discuss your treatment options.
Use this link to find out if you need medical help and if you may be eligible for antiviral medication
Monoclonal Antibodies (Biologics) and Antiviral Agents
Some monoclonal antibodies (Mab) and antiviral medicines can help prevent severe illness from COVID-19 or treat more severe symptoms.
Generally, these drugs must be used within the first few days of illness, from within 5 to 7 days of first having symptoms. There are a range of different medicines to treat COVID-19 to meet your individual needs.
These medicines are for people that are more likely to become very sick from COVID-19. This may include people that:
- Are older
- Are not fully vaccinated
- Have a weak immune system (due to a condition or medicine)
- Have a medical condition that increases their risk of severe COVID-19 (including moderate or severe asthma)
- Live with a disability
- Live in residential aged care
- Identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
- Have previously been hospitalised with COVID-19 infection
Children in certain situations may take some of these medicines too.
If this sounds like you or your child, speak to your doctor as soon as you can. It may be a good idea to plan your treatment with your doctor before you get COVID-19.
These treatments are not a substitute for vaccination. We know that vaccination, and especially getting boosted, is still your best protection against severe COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and think you are more likely to get severe COVID-19, book an urgent telehealth consultation with your doctor to discuss your treatment options.
Last reviewed 19/06/2023