Scientists from the UK have found two new potential COVID19 treatments, which might be able to cut the risk of death by 24 percent in critically ill patients. They have said that two life-saving drugs are typically used in rheumatoid arthritis. The UK government as well has approved the new study. It has shown that Tocilizumab and to a certain level Sarilumab have been able to reduce the risk of death in patients with severe COVID19 infection by 24 percent as compared to those who have not been treated with these drugs. Patients who are treated with these drugs are most likely to leave the hospital 10 days earlier than those who have not been given this treatment, said the UK government officials. The new study has been funded by the UK government itself, which is called The REMAP-CAP trial. It has not been peer-reviewed or published yet. The UK government has invested around $1.63 million in the study. The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that this is a groundbreaking development, which will save many lives across the country. Earlier there have been many studies, which have shown that arthritis drugs might not be useful in reducing the mortality rate among COVID19 patients.
The findings of the study have shown that Tocilizumab has been able to accelerate and improve the odds of recovery among patients who have been admitted to intensive care units. It will help to ease the pressure on intensive care units and hospitals, which has become a huge concern in the health systems since the second wave of the virus has taken a toll across the world. The UK government has announced that NHS clinicians can start using these drugs in the treatment of COVID19 patients who have been admitted to the intensive care units at the earliest possible, as Tocilizumab is easily accessible in the UK hospitals. Tocilizumab and Sarilumab are given as injection shots into the vein. These drugs are used in combination with Dexamethasone, which is a steroid treatment used for patients in intensive care units who need oxygen. In a previous study, Dexamethasone has been proved a landmark treatment for reducing the risk of death due to COVID19. Dr. Stephen Evans, who is a professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has said that the new treatment with Tocilizumab is expected to be effective as it can hold back hyperactive immune system response, which has been seen in patients, who deal with severe COVID19 infection. However, Tocilizumab and Sarilumab are more expensive than Dexamethasone. The British Formulary has reported that each pre-filled injection of Tocilizumab and Sarilumab costs around 912 pounds where Dexamethasone costs around 20 pounds per vial. Martin Landray, who is a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, has said that the study has given a sigh of relief to people but there are many unrequited questions.
Some experts have said that it is uncertain whether these drugs will be effective on people who are dealing with early-stage disease in hospitals or in the community. Martin Landray has said that it is unclear how Tocilizumab acts on people with different types of disease. However, scientists have been testing these drugs to see whether they can prevent people from going on ventilators. The study, The REMAP-CAP trial, has not been peer-reviewed, which seems to be an issue as such complex methods need peer reviewing. Scientists test the efficacy of the drugs with the help of a score, which combines mortality and the number of days without the ventilator. However, mortality is far more crucial than one additional day on organ support, said the experts. The director of Biostatistics at Premier Research, Adams Jacob has said that only a small number of patients have been treated with Sarilumab in the study. The findings of the study as well have shown that treatment with Sarilumab is better than not giving, which means there is a certain risk involved with Sarilumab. However, Tocilizumab seems to work as it has been given to more people, said Dr. Adams Jacob. There is a difference of 8 percent in absolute risk between people who have been given treatment with Tocilizumab and the control group. It means that if 100 people in intensive care units are treated with Tocilizumab, around eight more of them will survive as compared to the control group people. He has said that Tocilizumab might not be a miracle treatment but it is certainly helpful.