The group of international experts based their recommendation on “moderate certainty evidence” that it improves survival and reduces the need for ventilation.
New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended two new drugs to treat COVID-19. It recommended arthritis drug Baricitinib and synthetic antibody treatment Sotrovimab to stave off serious illness and death from Covid-19. The experts strongly recommended the use of Baricitinib as an alternative to interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor blockers, in combination with corticosteroids, to treat severe or critical Covid patients. They suggested that the use of baricitinib with corticosteroids in severe Covid patients led to better survival rates and reduced need for ventilators.
The group of international experts based their recommendation on “moderate certainty evidence” that it improves survival and reduces the need for ventilation. “The strong recommendation for baricitinib in those with severe or critical illness reflects moderate certainty evidence for benefits on mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation and hospital length of stay (high certainty) with no observed increase in adverse effects leading to drug discontinuation,” the updated WHO guidelines say.
The experts also advise against the use of two other JAK inhibitors (ruxolitinib and tofacitinib) for patients with severe or critical cases of COVID-19 infection.
In the same update, WHO makes a conditional recommendation for the use of a monoclonal antibody known as sotrovimab in patients with non-severe cases.
According to them, the drug should only be administered to patients at the highest risk of hospitalisation. In those at lower risk, it only showed “trivial benefits”.
A similar recommendation has been madepreviously, for another monoclonal antibody drug, casirivimab-imdevimab, and the experts say there is insufficient data to recommend one over the other.
For both, the effectiveness against new variants, like Omicron, is still uncertain.
The group will update their guidelines for monoclonal antibodies when more data becomes available.
These recommendations are based on new evidence from seven trials involving over 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical infections.
Developed by WHO with the methodological support of MAGIC Evidence Ecosystem Foundation, the guidelinesprovide trustworthy guidance and help doctors make better decisions with their patients.
According to the agency, the guidelines are useful in fast moving research areas, because they allow researchers to update evidence summaries as new information becomes available.
The latest guidance also updates recommendations for the use of interleukin-6 receptor blockers and systemic corticosteroids for patients with severe or critical COVID-19; conditional recommendations for the use of casirivimab-imdevimab (another monoclonal antibody treatment) in selected patients; and against the use of convalescent plasma, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, regardless of disease severity.