Am J Transplant. 2020 Sep 18. doi: 10.1111/ajt.16314. Online ahead of print.
The safety and efficacy of tocilizumab for the treatment severe respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19 remain uncertain, in particular among solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients. Thus, we evaluated the clinical characteristics and outcomes of 29 hospitalized SOT recipients who received tocilizumab for severe COVID-19, compared to a matched control group who did not. Among a total of 117 total SOT recipients hospitalized with COVID-19, 29 (24.8%) received tocilizumab. 90-day mortality was significantly higher among patients who received tocilizumab (41%) compared to those who did not (20%, p=0.03). When compared to control patients matched by age, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and administration of high dose corticosteroids, there was no significant difference in mortality (41% v. 28%, p=0.27), hospital discharge (52% v. 72%, p=0.26) or secondary infections (34% v. 24%, p=0.55). Among patients who received tocilizumab, there was also no difference in mortality based on level of oxygen support (intubated v. not intubated) at time of tocilizumab initiation. In this matched control cohort study, tocilizumab appeared to be safe but was not associated with decreased 90-day mortality. Larger randomized studies are needed to identify whether there are subsets of SOT recipients who may benefit from tocilizumab for treatment of COVID-19.