The World Health Organization on Friday approved two new COVID-19 treatments, increasing its arsenal of vaccines as well as tools to prevent serious illness and virus deaths. The news comes as Omicron cases fill hospitals around the world, with the WHO estimating that half of Europe will be infected by March.
In their recommendation in the British medical journal BMJ, WHO experts said the arthritis drug baricitinib, used with corticosteroids to treat severe or severe COVID patients, improved survival rates and reduced the need for ventilators. Went.
Experts also recommended the synthetic antibody treatment sotrovimab for people with non-severe COVID-19 at highest risk of hospitalization, such as the elderly, people with immunodeficiencies or chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The benefits of sotrovimab for those at risk of hospitalization were deemed insignificant and the WHO said its effectiveness against newer variants such as Omicron was “still uncertain”. Only three other treatments for COVID-19 have received WHO approval, starting with corticosteroids for critically ill patients. September 2020.
Corticosteroids are inexpensive and widely available and fight the inflammation that usually occurs in severe cases. The arthritis drugs tocilizumab and serilumab, approved in July by the WHO, are IL-6 inhibitors that suppress a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Baricitinib is in a different class of medications known as Janus kinase inhibitors, but it falls under the same guidelines as IL-6 inhibitors.
“When both are available, choose one based on issues including cost and the experience of the physician,” the guideline says.
The synthetic antibody treatment Regeneron was approved by the WHO in September and the guidelines say sotrovimab can be used for the same type of patients. WHO’s COVID treatment recommendations are updated regularly based on new data from clinical trials.