L.Last week the UK government issued a statement promoting the use of tocilizumab and sarilumab, drugs originally developed to improve symptoms of arthritis and treat severe COVID-19 cases. The recommendations are based on results published on January 7th on the preprint server medRxiv This suggests the drugs could reduce the risk of death by 24 percent.
In the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, around 800 patients in the intensive care unit with severe COVID-19 were examined. About half received the standard of care, while 353 received tocilizumab and 48 received sarilumab. The researchers found that 35.8 percent of patients given standard care died, compared with 28 percent given tocilizumab and 22.2 percent given sarilumab.
“This is a significant step forward in improving ICU patient survival with COVID-19. The data show that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab, accelerate and improve the chances of recovery in the intensive care unit. This is crucial to relieve the pressure on the ICU and hospitals and save lives, ”said Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England The guard.
The immunosuppressants tocilizumab and sarilumab, which are primarily used to treat arthritis, block the transmission of signals from the cytokine IL-6, a key regulator of immunodeficiency and inflammation in severe COVID-19 cases. Dozens of clinical trials of tocilizumab and sarilumab to treat COVID-19 are planned or ongoing, but published results on patient survival to date are mixed.
The results of the new study are “encouraging,” says Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease doctor at the Medical University of South Carolina who was not involved in the latest clinical study The New York Times. But she adds, “I think we need to understand why this data looks different from other studies before we start implementing this as a widespread policy.”
The reason for the discrepancy could be that the new study only included patients with severe COVID-19, says Jonathan Parr, an infectious disease doctor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was also not involved in the work The Washington Post. In contrast, he says: “Other published randomized trials included mostly hospitalized patients with less severe illness.” Patients in the new study also received the medication within 24 hours of entering the intensive care unit, suggesting early treatment could be important to improve patient survival.