WHO recommend two new COVID-19 treatments

pharmafile | January 14, 2022 | News story | Medical Communications  

WHO approved two new treatments for COVID-19 on 14 January, as Omicron cases continue globally, and WHO predicting half of Europe will be infected by March. The organisation gave a strong recommendation for the use of baricitinib, and a conditional recommendation for sotrovimab. WHO conditionally recommended against the use of ruxolitinib and tofacitinib for patients with severe or critical COVID-19.

In their recommendation in British medical Journal the BMJ, WHO experts said arthritis drug baricitinib used with corticosteroids to treat severe or critical COVID-19 patients led to better survival rates and reduced need for ventilators. Baricitinib has been recommended as an alternative to interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor blockers, in combination with corticosteroids, in patients with severe or critical COVID-19.

Meanwhile, WHO also recommended synthetic antibody treatment sotrovimab in patients with non-severe COVID-19, conditional for those at highest risk of hospitalisation. Those who fall into this category include those who are unvaccinated, older people, those with immunodeficiencies, or with chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The organisation gave a conditional recommendation against the use of ruxolitinib and tofacitinib, stating that “clinicians should consider using these drugs only if neither baricitinib nor IL-6 receptor blockers (tocilizumab or sarilumab) are available,” and cited the need for “more trial evidence to better inform the recommendations.” 

On January 13, 109,133 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded, and a further 335 people died within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19. Government statistics bring the total deaths from COVID-19 to 151,342, while figures from the Office for National Statistics record 176,000 deaths in the UK, where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. 

Only three other treatments for Covid-19 have received WHO approval, the first of which was corticosteroids for severely ill patients, in September 2020.

Ana Ovey

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