Tocilizumab effective in treating sickest COVID-19 patients

The early findings, which are yet to be published, come from the REMAP-CAP trial, sponsored by the UMC Utrecht in Europe and led by Imperial College London and ICNARC in the UK. They show that treatment with the immune modulator tocilizumab was 99 per cent more likely to reduce deaths and time spent in intensive care among critically ill patients with severe COVID-19, compared to patients who did not receive the treatment.

In addition, the latest analysis also revealed an antiviral drug lopinavir/ritonavir to be ineffective and provide no additional benefit to critically ill COVID-19 patients, compared to patients who received no antiviral treatment.

Due to the clinical implications for patients, the researchers have released the findings before they have been peer-reviewed but are working to analyze and publish the full results as soon as possible.

“We still need to see the full data, but this is a very exciting result”, said Doctor Lennie Derde, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the sponsor of the study in Europe, and the Domain Specific Working Group Chair. “To have a second effective therapy for critically ill patients within months of the start of the pandemic is unprecedented. Specific targeting of the immune response is theoretically attractive, and now this indicates it works.”