Tocilizumab and Sarilumab Found Effective in Treating Critical COVID-19 Patients

COVID-19Tocilizumab and Sarilumab Found Effective in Treating Critical COVID-19 Patients

The preliminary report of findings from the clinical trial NCT02735707 reported in preprint suggests that Tocilizumab and Sarilumab, the interleukin-6 receptor antagonists are effective in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients and improve survival.

Severely ill COVID-19 patients receiving intensive care support responded well to the treatment with the IL-6 receptor antagonists, tocilizumab and sarilumab. The hospital mortality was 28.0 % for tocilizumab, 22.2% for sarilumab and 35.8% for control meaning survival rate improved supporting better efficacy of these repurposed drugs. (1)

The drugs tocilizumab (a humanized monoclonal antibody against the IL-6 receptor) and sarilumab (a human monoclonal antibody against the IL-6 receptor) are normally used as immunosuppressants in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.  

In the current climate of COVID-19 pandemic when mortality and infection rates are high, it is very interesting to note that these two repurposed drugs significantly reduced COVID-19 patients’ stay in intensive care wards of the hospital and reduced the mortality rate by about a quarter. This basically means fewer deaths and shorter stay in critical care, thus preserving hospitals capacity to deal with the pandemic.  

This clinical trial was funded by EU which is supporting REMAP-CAP through the Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)emerging Epidemics (PREPARE) project. Additional support comes from the related Rapid European SARS-CoV-2 Emergency Research response (RECOVER) project (2).  



  1. REMAP-CAP Investigators, Gordon AC., 2020. Interleukin-6 Receptor Antagonists in Critically Ill Patients with Covid-19 – Preliminary report. Preprint: MedRxiv. Posted January 07, 2021. DOI:  
  1. European Commission, 2021. News – EU funded clinical trial finds new treatments to be effective against COVID-19. Published 8 January 2021. Available online 
  1.  Clinical Trial NCT02735707: Randomized, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform Trial for Community- Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) Available online at 


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