WHO recommends 2 new drugs for COVID-19  patients

Adeze Ojukwu

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, recommended, two new drugs, for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

One is for patients with critical diseaseand the other is for non-severe cases.

The first drug, baricitinib, is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor- a class of drugs used to treat autoimmune conditions, blood and bone marrow cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis.

In an electronic statement, made available to, WHO Guideline Development Group, said it is ‘strongly recommended’ for patients with severe or critical disease in combination.

‘The group of international experts based their recommendation on “moderate certainty evidence” that it improves survival and reduces the need for ventilation.’

There was no observed increase in adverse effects, they reported.

The statement reads:
‘The experts note that it has a similar effectas other arthritis drugs called interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors. Because of that, when both drugs are available, they suggest choosing the best option based on cost, availability, and clinician experience.’

‘It is not recommended to use both drugs at the same time. 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.’

‘Trials undergone using these drugs failed to show any benefits arising using either drug, and suggested a possible increase in serious side effects with tofacitinib.’

‘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 made previously, 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 guidelines provide 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.’

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