Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Two rheumatoid arthritis drugs have shown to be effective in stopping the occurrence of death in severely sick COVID-19 patients. The drugs, tocilizumab and sarilumab are anti-inflammatory medication used to treat arthritis by stopping inflammation from taking place.
Results from a double-blinded phase three clinical trial involving 800 participants in six countries showed that the drugs could save the life of one out of 12 severe patients and reduce the time spent in the ICU.
The drugs are also known as IL-6 receptor antagonists because they regulate cell growth and help immune responses in the body by stopping inflammation. This was found to reduce the effect that the proteins of the virus which attacks the immune system and cause an overreaction, which can damage the lungs and other organs can have.
According to results from the study carried out in the UK, the drugs were able to reduce the death rate of severely sick patients by a quarter. The death rate among patients admitted to the ICU stood at 37 per cent.
Half of the participants in the trial were given a placebo and the others were given the drugs. An 8.5 drop was recorded in patients who took the two drugs over a three-week period. When the drug was administered, the death rate reduced to 27 per cent in patients who took the drug within 24 hours after being admitted.
The findings of the trial have not yet undergone peer reviews. However, the treatment has been rolled out in some hospitals in The UK. Doctors are giving the drug to COVID patients who, despite receiving dexamethasone, are deteriorating and need intensive care.
Prof Anthony Gordon, the lead investigator in the UK trial says that the trial findings were great and would have a big effect on COVID-19 treatment.