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WHO approves two new COVID-19 treatments

On Friday (January 14), the World Health Organization approved two new Coronavirus treatments to combat an alarming increase in the virus’s global cases. Globally, experts and scientists are searching for treatments to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and its variants.

Several countries are experiencing a steep increase in the number of Covid cases linked to the Omicron ‘variant of concern. There is also the important point that WHO updates its Covid treatment recommendations regularly based on new results from clinical trials.

WHO experts now recommend combining the arthritis drug baricitinib with corticosteroids as a treatment for severe or critical COVID patients. This is due to improved survival rates and reduced need for ventilators. ‘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.

Sotrovimab is also recommended for people with non-serious Covid at high risk of hospitalization, such as the elderly, those with immunodeficiencies or chronic diseases such as diabetes. The benefits of sotrovimab for people not at risk of hospitalization were deemed insignificant, and the WHO said its effectiveness against new variants such as Omicron is ‘still inconclusive’.

WHO-approved treatments:

In September 2020, corticosteroids for patients who are severely ill will be approved by the WHO as the only other treatment for Covid. It is often common for severe cases to be accompanied by swelling caused by corticosteroids, which are inexpensive and widely available.

Tocilizumab and sarilumab, two types of arthritis drugs endorsed by the WHO in July, inhibit IL-6 and prevent a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The drug baricitinib belongs to a different class of drugs called Janus kinase inhibitors, but it falls under the same guidelines as the IL-6 inhibitors. The guidelines advise choosing one based on factors such as cost and clinician experience if both are available. The synthetic antibody treatment Regeneron was approved by the WHO in September, and the guidelines specify that Sotrovimab can be used in patients with the same condition.


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