Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 5;10(1):19131. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-76187-y.
The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide pandemic has placed a significant burden on hospitals and healthcare providers. The immune response to this disease is thought to lead to an aberrant inflammatory response or cytokine storm, which contributes to the severity of illness. There is an urgent need to confirm whether the use of tocilizumab provides a benefit in individuals with COVID-19. A single-center propensity-score matched cohort study, including all consecutive COVID-19 patients, admitted to the medical center who were either discharged from the medical center or expired between March 1, 2020, and May 5, 2020, was performed. Patients were stratified according to the receipt of tocilizumab for cytokine storm and matched to controls using propensity scores. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. A total of 274 patients meeting inclusion and exclusion criteria were identified and 132 patients were included in the matched dataset (tocilizumab = 66; no tocilizumab = 66). Approximately 73% of the patients were male. Hypertension (55%), diabetes mellitus (31%), and chronic pulmonary disease (15%) were the most common comorbidities present. There were 18 deaths (27.3%) in the tocilizumab group and 18 deaths (27.3%) in the no tocilizumab group (odds ratio, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.465 - 2.151; p = 1.00). Advanced age, history of myocardial infarction, dementia, chronic pulmonary disease, heart failure, and malignancy were significantly more common in patients who died. The current analysis does not support the use of tocilizumab for the management of cytokine storm in patients with COVID-19. Use of this therapeutic agent should be limited to the context of a clinical trial until more evidence is available.