Lung. 2021 May 29. doi: 10.1007/s00408-021-00451-9. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: To date, only dexamethasone has been shown to reduce mortality in coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) patients. Tocilizumab has been recently added to the treatment guidelines for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but data remain conflicting.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Electronic databases such as MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane central were searched from March 1, 2020, until March 10, 2021, for randomized controlled trials evaluating the efficacy of tocilizumab in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The outcomes assessed were all-cause mortality, mechanical ventilation, and time to discharge.
RESULTS: Nine studies (with 6490 patients) were included in the analysis. In total, 3358 patients received tocilizumab, and 3132 received standard care/placebo. Pooled analysis showed a significantly decreased risk of all-cause mortality (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.98, p = 0.02) and progression to mechanical ventilation (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.71-0.89, p < 0.0001) in the tocilizumab arm compared to standard therapy or placebo. In addition, there was a trend towards improved median time to hospital discharge (RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.12-1.45, p = 0.0002).
CONCLUSIONS: Tocilizumab therapy improves outcomes of mortality and need for mechanical ventilation, in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection compared with standard therapy or placebo. Our findings suggest the efficacy of tocilizumab therapy in hospitalized COVID-19 patients and strengthen the concept that tocilizumab is a promising therapeutic intervention to improve mortality and morbidity in COVID-19 patients.