The latest recommendations urge new calls for patent exemptions to allow more people access to treatments.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has added two additional drugs to its guidelines for recommended treatments for COVID-19, as the most contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes an unprecedented increase in cases around the world.
The UN agency’s international expert panel said in guidelines published by Britain that baricitinib, which is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is “strongly recommended” for patients with severe or critical COVID-19, in addition to corticosteroids. Medical Journal.
The committee said the drug reduces the need for ventilation and has been found to improve patients’ chances of survival without any sign of an increase in adverse reactions.
The committee also gave a “conditional recommendation” for sotrovimab, an experimental monoclonal antibody treatment, for those with non-severe COVID-19 but at higher risk of hospitalization. Monoclonal antibodies are compounds created in the laboratory that mimic the body’s natural defense mechanism.
The new treatment recommendations come as the pandemic accelerates around the world. More than 15 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the WHO in the past week – by far the most in one week – driven by the Omicron variant, which is replacing the nearly ubiquitous delta variant.
The recommendations were based on new evidence from seven trials involving more than 4,000 patients with non-acute, acute and critical cases of COVID-19.
The guidelines add to previous recommendations for the use of interleukin-6 receptor blockers and systemic corticosteroids in patients with acute or critical COVID-19 virus; conditional recommendations for the use of casirivimab-imdevimab (another monoclonal antibody therapy) in selected patients; And against the use of convalescent plasma, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients, regardless of disease severity.
French humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has welcomed the new recommendations and urged governments to tackle patent protection to ensure as many people as possible benefit from treatments.
Baricitinib is produced by US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and while generic versions are available in India and Bangladesh, patents are valid in several other countries including Brazil and Indonesia.
For nearly two years now, we have helplessly witnessed people dying from COVID-19 amid catastrophic waves of disease. In countries where MSF works, Dr. Marcio da Fonseca, medical advisor for infectious diseases for MSF’s campaign for access, said in a statement.
“The possibilities to provide high-level intensive care are limited, so saving the lives of more people with severe and critical infections largely depends on access to affordable medications that we can add to the stimulants, oxygen and supportive care we already provide in our projects. As new treatments emerge, It would simply be inhumane if it remained unavailable in resource-limited places, simply because it is patented and expensive.”
The World Health Organization added what it said are “life-saving” interleukin-6 receptor blockers to its list of COVID-19 treatments last July. She recommended the use of corticosteroids in September 2020.
In recent weeks, government regulators have also approved new oral treatments for the disease, including Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral birth control pill, which has been shown to be close to 90 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk patients. The company said it also retained its effectiveness with Omicron.