Effective Treatment of Severe COVID-19 Patients with Tocilizumab
Background: In December 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was identified in Wuhan, China, which spread rapidly and has become a world-wide public health challenge. We aimed to assess the efficacy of tocilizumab in severe patients with Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19) and seek a new therapeutic strategy.
Methods: The patients diagnosed as severe or critical COVID-19 in The First Affiliated Hospital of University of Science and Technology of China (Anhui Provincial Hospital) and Anhui Fuyang Second People’s Hospital were given tocilizumab in addition to routine therapy between February 5 and February 14, 2020. The changes of clinical manifestations, CT scan image, and laboratory examinations were retrospectively analyzed.
Findings: Within a few days, the fever returned to normal and all other symptoms improved remarkably. Fifteen of the 20 patients (75.0%) had lowered their oxygen intake and one patient need no oxygen therapy. CT scans manifested that the lung lesion opacity absorbed in 19 patients (90.5%). The percentage of lymphocytes in peripheral blood, which decreased in 85.0% patients (17/20) before treatment (mean, 15.52 ± 8.89%), returned to normal in 52.6% patients (10/19) on the fifth day after treatment. Abnormally elevated C-reactive protein decreased significantly in 84.2% patients (16/19). No obvious adverse reactions were observed. Nineteen patients (90.5%) have been discharged on average 13.5 days after the treatment with tocilizumab and the rest are recovering well.
Interpretation: Tocilizumab is an effective treatment in severe patients of COVID-19, which provided a new therapeutic strategy for this fatal infectious disease.