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Combination therapy of Tocilizumab and steroid for management of COVID-19 associated cytokine release syndrome: A single center experience from Pune, Western India

By Ameet Dravid, Reema Kashiva, Zafer Khan, Danish Memon, Aparna Kodre, Prashant Potdar, Milind Mane, Rakesh Borse, Vishal Pawar, Dattatraya Patil, Debashis Banerjee, Kailas Bhoite, Reshma Pharande, Suraj Kalyani, Prathamesh Raut, Madhura Bapte, Anshul Mehta, M Sateesh Reddy, Krushnadas Bhayani, S S Laxmi, P D Vishnu, Shipra Srivastava, Shubham Khandelwal, Sailee More, Rohit Shinde, Mohit Pawar, Amol Harshe, Sagar Kadam, Uma Mahajan, Gaurav Joshi, Dilip Mane

Posted 06 Feb 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.04.21249959

Background: Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or cytokine storm is thought to be the cause of inflammatory lung damage, worsening pneumonia and death in patients with COVID-19. Steroids (Methylprednisolone or Dexamethasone) and Tocilizumab (TCZ), an interleukin-6 receptor antagonist, are approved for the treatment of CRS in India. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of combination therapy of TCZ and steroids in COVID-19 associated CRS. Methods: This retrospective cohort study was conducted at a tertiary level private hospital in Pune, India between 2nd April and 2nd November 2020. All patients administered TCZ and steroids for treatment of CRS were included. The primary endpoint was the incidence of all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes studied were the need for mechanical ventilation and incidence of infectious complications. Baseline and time-dependent risk factors significantly associated with death were identified by Relative risk estimation. Results: Out of 2831 admitted patients, 515 (24.3% females) were administered TCZ and steroids. Median age of the cohort was 57 (IQR: 46.5, 66) years. Almost 72 % patients had preexisting co-morbidities. Median time to TCZ administration since onset of symptoms was 9 days (IQR: 7, 11). 63% patients needed intensive care unit (ICU) admission. Mechanical ventilation was required in 242 (47%) patients. Of these, 44.2% (107/242) recovered and were weaned off the ventilator. There were 135 deaths (26.2%), while 380 patients (73.8%) had clinical improvement. Infectious complications like hospital acquired pneumonia, bloodstream bacterial and fungal infections were observed in 2.13 %, 2.13 % and 0.06 % patients respectively. Age [&ge;] 60 years (p=0.014), presence of co-morbidities like hypertension (p = 0.011), IL-6 [&ge;] 100 pg/ml (p = 0.002), D-dimer [&ge;] 1000 ng/ml (p < 0.0001), CT severity index [&ge;] 18 (p < 0.0001) and systemic complications like lung fibrosis (p = 0.019), cardiac arrhythmia (p < 0.0001), hypotension (p < 0.0001) and encephalopathy (p < 0.0001) were associated with increased risk of death. Conclusions: Combination therapy of TCZ and Steroids is likely to be safe and effective in the management of COVID-19 associated cytokine release syndrome. Efficacy of this anti-inflammatory combination therapy needs to be validated in randomized controlled clinical trials.

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