The global health governing body – the World Health Organization has approved two new treatments of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Friday (January 14) amid a sharp rise in the virus cases globally.
In the efforts to counter the threat imposed by the COVID-19 and its variants, experts and scientists around the world are working to find treatments to minimise the risk.
The latest approval came amid several countries are witnessing a steep surge in the number of Covid cases fuelled by the ‘variant of concern’ Omicron.
Also important to note that the Covid treatment recommendations by WHO are updated regularly based on new data from clinical trials.
Now, arthritis drug baricitinib used with corticosteroids to treat severe or critical Covid patients led to better survival rates and reduced need for ventilators, the WHO experts said in their recommendation in British medical Journal the BMJ.
“The Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor baricitinib, which is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids, an expert group from the World Health Organization has written in The BMJ,” a part of the journal read.
Experts also recommended synthetic antibody treatment Sotrovimab for people with non-serious Covid at highest risk of hospitalisation, such as the elderly, people with immunodeficiencies or chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Sotrovimab’s benefits for people not at risk of hospitalisation were deemed insignificant and the WHO said its effectiveness against new variants like Omicron was “still uncertain”.
Other treatments approved by WHO
Only three other treatments for Covid have received WHO approval, starting with corticosteroids for severely ill patients in September 2020. Corticosteroids are inexpensive and widely available and fight inflammation that commonly accompanies severe cases.
Arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab, which the WHO endorsed in July, are IL-6 inhibitors that suppress a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Baricitinib is in a different class of drugs known as Janus kinase inhibitors, but it falls under the same guidelines as the IL-6 inhibitors.
“When both are available, choose one based on issues including cost and clinician experience,” the guidelines say.
Synthetic antibody treatment Regeneron was approved by the WHO in September and the guidelines say Sotrovimab can be used for the same type of patients.
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(With inputs from agencies)