Early use of tocilizumab in patients with severe pneumonia secondary to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and poor prognostic criteria: Impact on mortality rate and intensive care unit admission

Link to article at PubMed

Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Jul 23;100(29):e26533. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000026533.


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, keeps spreading globally. Evidence suggests that a subgroup of patients with severe symptomatology might have cytokine storms, which increases mortality. The use of interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors may help in controlling the pathological immune response to the virus. Tocilizumab, a monoclonal antibody against IL-6, stands as an optional treatment for COVID-19 patients presenting this inflammatory hyper-response.We conducted a retrospective, observational, cohort study including 50 patients affected by COVID-19 with severe pneumonia and poor prognosis criteria, who have also undergone standard treatment; 36 of these patients additionally received tocilizumab in an early stage. The need for intensive care unit (ICU) admission, mortality, recovery of respiratory function, and improvement of biochemical and hematological parameters were compared between cohorts.Most patients were men, non-smokers and the most frequently reported comorbidities were hypertension and diabetes. Recurrent symptoms were fever, cough, and dyspnoea. 54.8% of patients from the tocilizumab group needed intubation, while in the control group 85.7% needed it. Treatment with tocilizumab significatively increased IL-6 levels, (554.45; CI 95% 186.69, 1032.93; P < .05) while C-reactive protein mean levels were reduced (-108.19; CI 95% -140.15, -75.33; P < .05), but no significant difference was found between cohorts. In comparison with the controls, tocilizumab reduced mortality (25.0% vs 42.9%, P = .021) and the number of ICU admissions (63.9% vs 100.0%, P = .021). 44.1% of patients treated with tocilizumab showed favorable radiological evolution, when compared with 15.4% of patients from the control group.Tocilizumab may improve clinical symptoms and mitigate deterioration observed in severe COVID-19 patients, and could be considered as an effective therapeutic option in subjects experiencing a significant inflammatory response to the disease.

PMID:34398008 | DOI:10.1097/MD.0000000000026533

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