WHO recommends two new COVID-19 treatments


Published: 2021-07-07 12:50

Last Updated: 2022-05-18 03:11

WHO recommends two new COVID-19 treatments
WHO recommends two new COVID-19 treatments

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Tuesday to add two anti-inflammatory drugs to the group of medicines recommended to treat people infected with the coronavirus.

The two drugs are Tocilizumab and Sarilumab, which are saving the lives of patients from severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The drugs reduce the risk of death and the need for oxygen tanks among hospitalized coronavirus patients, according to an analysis of nearly 11,000 patients published Tuesday.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association prompted the WHO to recommend the use of the drugs, in addition to corticosteroids among patients with severe or critical coronavirus infections.

A professor at King's College London and the lead author of the paper, Manu Shankar-Hari, told AFP that the research represented a "definitive piece of evidence" in favor of the drugs after earlier studies produced mixed results.

Among hospitalized coronavirus patients, administering one of the drugs in addition to corticosteroids reduced the risk of fatalities by 17 percent, compared to the use of corticosteroids alone.

In patients who did not require respirators, the risk of progressing to mechanical ventilation or death was reduced by 21 percent, compared to the use of corticosteroids alone.

Tocilizumab and Sarilumab are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, by inhibiting the effects of interleukin (IL)-6, a type of protein that signals the body to mount an inflammatory response.

According to France24, previous research on whether IL-6 inhibitors can be useful against severe COVID-19 infections have reported benefit, with no effect or harm.

This prompted the WHO to coordinate the new study that combined data from 27 trials conducted across 28 countries.

The analysis included information on 10,930 patients, of whom 6,449 were randomly assigned to receive interleukin-6 inhibitors and 4,481 to receive usual care or placebo.

Overall, the risk of death within 28 days was 22 percent compared with an assumed risk of 25 percent in those receiving only usual care.

Outcomes were better when patients also received corticosteroids, with the risk of dying 21 percent compared to 25 percent for those receiving usual care.

This means that for every 100 such patients, four more will survive.