Addition of Tocilizumab to the Standard of Care Reduces Mortality in Severe COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Umesha Boregowda, Abhilash Perisetti, Arpitha Nanjappa, Mahesh Gajendran, Gurusaravanan Kutti Sridharan, Hemant Goyal
Frontiers in Medicine 2020, 7: 586221
Introduction: Tocilizumab (TCZ) is an anti-interleukin-6 antibody that has been used for the treatment of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, concrete evidence of its benefit in reducing mortality in severe COVID-19 is lacking. Therefore, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of relevant studies that compared the efficacy of TCZ in severe COVID-19 vs. standard of care (SOC) alone. Methods: A literature search for studies that compared "tocilizumab" and "standard of care" in the treatment of COVID-19 was done using major online databases from December 2019 to June 14, 2020. Search words "Tocilizumab," "anti-interleukin-6 antibody," and "COVID-19" or "coronavirus 2019" in various combinations were used. Articles in the form of abstracts, letters without original data, case reports, and reviews were excluded. Data were gathered on an Excel sheet, and statistical analysis was performed using Review Manager 5.3. Results: Sixteen studies were eligible from 693 initial studies, including 3,641 patients (64% males). There were 13 retrospective studies and three prospective studies. There were 2,488 patients in the SOC group (61.7%) and 1,153 patients (68.7%) in the TCZ group. The death rate in the TCZ group, 22.4% (258/1,153), was lower than in the SOC group, 26.21% (652/2,488) [pooled odds ratio 0.57 (95% CI 0.36-0.92), p = 0.02]. There was a significant heterogeneity (inconsistency index = 80%) among the included studies. Conclusion: The addition of TCZ to the SOC might reduce mortality in severe COVID-19. More extensive randomized clinical trials are needed to validate these findings.

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