The WHO has decided to recommend two drugs for people infected with the coronavirus. The opinion published in the medical journal The BMJ, refers to treatment with synthetic antibodies, sotrovimab, and a drug commonly used for rheumatoid arthritis, baricitinib.
Baricitinib should be used in severe cases and monoclonal antibodies are validated for less affected patients. It is an inhibitor usually applied against arthritis, must be accompanied by corticosteroids, said Friday the WHO expert group in charge of the guidelines. According to “moderately certain” indications, it reduces the danger of death and the need for ventilation, with no observed side effects.
For its part, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) called on governments to ensure that patents do not prevent access to this care. The impact of this drug is the same as interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is already approved. If both are possible, the choice should depend on cost, availability and clinical experience, the specialists also said.
On the other hand, they do not favor the use of two other inhibitors, ruxolitinib and tofacitinib. The tests were few in number and gave only uncertain indications. Another issue is that a possible increase in serious side effects has been identified with tofacitinib.
Efficacy against Omicron remains to be established
The second recommended drug, sotrovimab should only be given to people with milder cases but at high risk of hospitalization. The benefits for other less affected patients are insignificant.
Experts favored the same approach for other monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab-imdevimab, which had already been approved. In both cases, the efficacy against the new Omicron variant remains to be established. The guidelines will be adapted when more guidance is obtained. The specialists launched their recommendations after seven tests involving more than 4,000 people.