WHO recommends two new therapies for Covid-19
One is an arthritis drug, the other is based on synthetic antibodies: With two new drugs, the WHO now recommends a total of five Covid-19 therapies. However, only for some patients.
DThe World Health Organization (WHO) has approved two new Covid-19 therapies. In their statement, published in the British medical journal BMJ on Friday, WHO experts recommended the use of the arthritis drug baricitinib and the synthetic antibody drug sotrovimab under certain circumstances. Overall, the WHO now recommends five Covid therapies.
Sotrovimab is recommended for patients with mild illness who are at high risk of hospitalization. These are, for example, the elderly, people who are immunocompromised or suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The benefit of sotrovimab is considered to be low for patients outside the risk groups. In addition, according to WHO experts, the effectiveness of the drug against the highly contagious variant of omicron is “still uncertain”.
Baricitinib, on the other hand, is recommended for “patients with severe or critical Covid”. The drug actually developed to fight arthritis must therefore be administered “in combination with corticosteroids”. This “improves survival rates and reduces the need for mechanical ventilation” in corona patients.
So far, only three other treatments for Covid disease are recommended by the WHO. As of September 2020, this includes treating critically ill patients with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids fight the inflammation that is usually associated with severe cases of corona. They are inexpensive and widely available.
In July, the WHO also approved the use of the arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab. These suppress a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus by inhibiting the protein Interlokin-6 (IL-6), which regulates inflammatory reactions. Baricitinib belongs to a different class of drugs but falls under the same guidelines as IL-6 inhibitors.
“If both are available,” doctors should decide for themselves which agent to use, “based on cost, availability and the practitioner’s experience,” WHO experts recommended.
Baricitinib is one of the so-called Janus kinase inhibitors, which are used against rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. However, other drugs in this family (ruxolitinib and tofacitinib) should not be used against Covid, WHO experts have warned. There was a lack of data on their effectiveness or side effects in the treatment of corona patients.
WHO recommendations for the treatment of Covid are regularly updated on the basis of clinical studies. However, the therapeutic arsenal is still weak. In recent months, the WHO has rejected several treatment methods: injection of plasma from patients recovered from Covid, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
Do not miss any episode of our daily Politics “Kick-off Politics” and aSubscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly through the RSS feed.