Saturday, January 22, 2022

COVID-19: WHO recommends new drugs for COVID treatment amid Omicron surge

With the surge in cases of Coronavirus across the globe, as the omicron variant becomes dominant, the World Health Organisation panel of international experts has added two more drugs to its guidelines for recommended treatments for Covid-19. WHO guideline development group has recommended the use of the drug Baricitinib which is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis is ‘strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical Covid-19, in combination with corticosteroids.

The recommendation has been made on ‘moderate certainty evidence’, based on three randomised controlled Barictinib trials conducted on 2,2559 participants. The study and the guidelines published in British Medical Journal suggested that the drug improved survival and reduces the need for ventilation with no observed increase in adverse effects.

Understanding the Findings:

Various drugs are now been recommended for the treatment of Coronavirus in order to reduce the effect of the virus in high-risk patients as well as in patients with moderate symptoms. The drug Barcitinib has proved to reduce the need for ventilation and had been found to improve patients’ chances of survival with no sign of an increase in adverse reactions, the WHO guideline panel said.

Apart from this, the WHO panel has also recommended ‘conditionally’ Sotrovimab, which is an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment, for those with non-severe COVID-19 but at the very highest risk of hospital admission. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created compounds that mimic the body’s natural defence mechanism.

The “guidance adds to previous recommendations for the use of interleukin-6 receptor blockers and systemic corticosteroids for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 infection. It is evident that the new treatment recommendations are coming along the backbone of the increased number of cases worldwide. It is pertinent to note that more than 15 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO in the last week, that is, by far the most in a single week, driven by the Omicron variant.

About the Baricitinib Drug:

Barticinib, also known as Olumiant, is a drug that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a type of drug known as a Janus kinase inhibitor, which works by blocking the activity or action of one or more of a specific family of enzymes, which are involved in the inflammation that causes the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Baricitinib is a prescription oral tablet medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. Baricitinib is produced by United States pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and while generic versions are available in India and Bangladesh, patents are in force in many other countries including Brazil and Indonesia.

In recent weeks, government regulators have also approved new oral treatments for the disease, including Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral pill, which showed close to 90% efficacy in preventing hospital admission and death in high-risk patients. The company intimated that this drug has also retained its effectiveness with the new variant of Coronavirus – Omicron.

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