The biggest COVID-19 treatment trial yet has found that an anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab reduced the risk of death for people hospitalized with the disease, shortened hospital stays, and cut the need for mechanical ventilation,Science reports.
These preprint results are not yet published in a peer reviewed journal, but will be big news if the data hold up:
Tocilizumab led to a 4% absolute reduction in mortality, which may sound modest compared to the stunning success of dexamethasone. Still, it should still be regarded as significant, says Ashish Jha of the Brown University School of Public Health.
But: Tocilizumab, normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, is 100X the price of dexamethasone, making equity a huge issue.
“This is going to be one more tool for wealthy countries to add to the mix, but not something that’s going to be widely available for the rest of the world,” cautions Jha.
Another Promising Treatment: Blood Thinners
Blood clots have been a major risk factor for COVID-19 deaths—but patients given anticoagulants within 24 hours of hospitalization were 30% less likely to die than those who weren’t, according to results published in the BMJ.
These new results may offer more clarity after research into these drugs had mixed results because of discrepancies in study design.