The latest study in the U.K. has shown that anti-inflammatory drugs normally used for rheumatoid arthritis could turn out to be a lifesaver for people hospitalized with COVID.
The U.K. researchers revealed on Thursday that the immune suppressant baricitinib reduced the risk of dying among hospitalized COVID patients by 13%.
The researchers added that the cure seemed especially effective when combined with other drugs, such as the readily available steroid dexamethasone, that also act on the immune system and have proven helpful in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
“Adding baricitinib on top of whatever else the doctors are currently prescribing … is beneficial,” University of Oxford clinical scientist Martin Landray, one of the lead researchers said.
To get the data, the research team studied outcomes for 4,008 patients who had been hospitalized with COVID between February and December 2021 and treated with the best remedies at the time.
After they got the result, the researchers compared it to 4,148 patients who received baricitinib on top of the usual care for up to 10 days.
Of the first group, 546 patients, or 14%, died within 28 days, compared to 513, or 12%, of the group being treated with baricitinib. Given before intubation, baricitinib seemed to reduce the chance of needing a ventilator at all.
The researchers said their study has shown that the anti-inflammatory appears to reduce the overactive immune response that helps COVID destroy the lungs.