New research suggests tocilizumab can reduce mortality rates in Covid patients

New research has shown significant results in reducing mortality rates when treating Covid-19 patients with the drug tocilizumab.

The study, conducted at Northampton General Hospital, saw patients hospitalised with Covid-19 given the medication, which is a widely available treatment for arthritis. Results showed that when given to Covid patients, tocilizumab can save lives, shorten hospital stays and decrease the likelihood of mechanical ventilation being required.

The research was conducted as part of a series of Urgent Public Health studies into Covid-19, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). An array of studies are currently underway as medical teams work to better understand the virus and ways in which it can be fought.

The RECOVERY trial saw over 35,000 patients across 177 hospital sites up and down the country take part. Currently, the Northampton General Hospital ranks amongst the highest sites in the country in terms of the number of patients recruited to take part.

In 2020, the RECOVERY study was the first in the world to show that dexamethasone, a “cheap and available” steroid, proved effective in reducing the risk of dying from Covid. Additionally, latest results from the study suggest that the combination of systemic corticosteroids such as dexamethasone alongside tocilizumab significantly reduce mortality in Covid patients with significant inflammation and in those who require oxygen. The drugs used in conjunction with one another reduce mortality rates by a third for patients requiring simple oxygen, and by a half for those who need invasive mechanical intervention.

Kay Faulkner, Associate Director Research, Innovation and Education said, “Research relies on a successful partnership between patients and staff, and I also want to thank our research staff for their enormous efforts over the past year to enable us to conduct vital research whilst maintaining the highest standards of patient care. [These] results are testament to the role our research team have played locally and seeing the findings will give everyone involved a boost.”

Matt Metcalfe, Medical Director said, “We are incredibly grateful to all COVID-19 patients in Northampton who have taken part in vital research during the past year. The determination of patients to be part of research helping to identify treatments to reduce the impact of Covid-19 has been inspiring, and it is positive to see that everyone’s hard work is now paying off.”