A former student activist and president of the Rhodes University SRC, Butler is the son of the late Eastern Cape poet, novelist and Rhodes University English head Guy Butler.
Butler said inhaled budesonide was safe, relatively inexpensive and readily available.
It was used around the world in inhalers to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Butler and his team discovered the asthma drug significantly shortened the recovery time of patients who were treating Covid-19 at home and away from the hospital.
PRINCIPLE said the findings from the clinical trial, which had 1,770 participants, could potentially change how Covid-19 was treated in its early stages.
He said medical practitioners around the world, including SA, could use the trial’s findings when making treatment decisions.
Butler said recruitment for the trial stopped at the end of last month because enough patients had been enrolled to establish whether or not the drug had any meaningful benefit on time recovery.
“Based on the interim analysis using the latest data from March 25 2021, the results showed the estimated median [middle] time to self-reported recovery for inhaled budesonide was 3.011 days shorter compared to usual care,” he said.
“We anticipate that medical practitioners around the world caring for people with Covid-19 in the community, may wish to consider this evidence when making treatment decisions, as it should help people with Covid-19 recover quicker,” Butler said.