Infection. 2022 Sep 9:1-8. doi: 10.1007/s15010-022-01915-7. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Tocilizumab and baricitinib are recommended treatment options for hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen support. Literature about its efficacy and safety in a head-to-head comparison is scarce.
METHODS: Hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen were treated with tocilizumab or baricitinib additionally to dexamethasone. Tocilizumab was available from February till the 19th of September 2021 and baricitinib from 21st of September. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcome parameters were progression to mechanical ventilation (MV), length-of-stay (LOS) and potential side effects.
RESULTS: 159 patients (tocilizumab 68, baricitinib 91) with a mean age of 60.5 years, 64% male were included in the study. Tocilizumab patients were admitted 1 day earlier, were in a higher WHO category at the time of inclusion and had a higher CRP level on admission and treatment initiation. Patients receiving Tocilizumab were treated with remdesivir more often and only patients in the baricitinib group were treated with monoclonal antibodies. Other characteristics did not differ significantly. In-hospital mortality (18% vs. 11%, p = 0.229), progression to MV (19% vs. 11%, p = 0.173) and LOS (13 vs. 12 days, p = 0.114) did not differ between groups. Side effects were equally distributed between groups, except ALAT elevation which was significantly more often observed in the tocilizumab group (43% vs. 25%, p = 0.021).
CONCLUSIONS: In-hospital mortality, progression to MV and LOS were not significantly different in patients treated with tocilizumab or baricitinib additionally to standard of care. Both drugs seem equally effective but further head-to-head trials are needed.