image by: Cristhians Ruiz Villegas
Pandemic science is a rollercoaster. Almost every week, there’s a new first-rate piece of research that helps make serious progress in the fight against Covid-19. At the same time, there are usually clear examples of how not to do science. Last week was no exception.
Our dose of good science came in the form of the immunosuppressive drug tocilizumab. The Prime Minister had some trouble pronouncing its name at a press conference, and I don’t blame him. But however you say it, Oxford’s Recovery trial has found it seems to work.
The new study hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed – it’s been posted online as a preprint, the preliminary kind of paper released for discussion prior to (or…
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For nearly a year, India, South Africa, and other low- and middle-income countries have been asking the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a suspension of patents on Covid-19 drugs and technologies until the end of the pandemic.
The drug, sarilumab, sold as Kevzara, didn’t show benefits to patients who were hospitalized but not on ventilators. The study will continue with critically ill patients.
A rheumatoid arthritis drug previously found to save lives among intensive care patients with Covid could also help those receiving oxygen on general wards and reduce pressure on the NHS, researchers have found.
Tocilizumab is used in conjunction with steroids to dampen a haywire immune response that occurs in some severely ill Covid-19 patients. The drug, which was originally developed to treat inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, received emergency-use authorization from the FDA in June.
In critically ill patients with Covid-19 receiving organ support in intensive care, treatment with the IL-6 receptor antagonists, tocilizumab and sarilumab, improved outcome, including survival.
A new study shows an anti-inflammatory drug can help treat certain severe symptoms of Covid-19, and adds a tool for helping the sickest patients.
Led by University of Oxford researchers, the ongoing Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial involved assigning 4,116 severely ill coronavirus patients to receive either intravenous tocilizumab, a rheumatoid arthritis drug, or usual care. Most (82%) of the participants also received a systemic corticosteroid such as dexamethasone.
In hospitalized patients with Covid-19 pneumonia who were not receiving mechanical ventilation, tocilizumab reduced the likelihood of progression to the composite outcome of mechanical ventilation or death, but it did not improve survival.
The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial has demonstrated that an anti-inflammatory treatment, tocilizumab, reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19. The study also showed that tocilizumab shortens the time until patients are successfully discharged from hospital and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator.
Unlike the 84 coronavirus-related scientific papers that have now been retracted, the tocilizumab study is transparent and plausible.
The big dip in mortality shown in the trial of about 800 patients has caught some experts by surprise because previous studies of the drugs showed little benefit.
Tocilizumab is an IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody that is approved for the use of CAR-T associated cytokine release syndrome.