The World Health Organization recommended that certain hospitalized Covid-19 patients be given a type of anti-inflammatory drug found to reduce the risk of death by 13% in the sickest patients when taken in combination with steroids.
The global public-health agency updated its Covid-19 treatment guidelines on Tuesday to strongly recommend that people with severe or critical disease be given drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab to combat the haywire inflammatory immune reaction of some patients.
The drugs are designed to block a protein called interleukin-6, or IL-6, that is thought to play a role in the hyper-inflammation experienced by some Covid-19 patients.
The WHO said the drugs are the first found to be effective against Covid-19 since the agency recommended the use of steroids in September.
“Patients severely or critically ill with Covid-19 often suffer from an overreaction of the immune system, which can be very harmful to the patient’s health,” the WHO said in a statement. “Interleukin-6 blocking drugs—tocilizumab and sarilumab—act to suppress this overreaction.”