WHO says these 2 drugs can help fight covid: What to know


The World Health Organization (WHO) has revised its guidelines to strongly recommend the use of two drugs against COVID-19.

They recommend an en-zyme blocker called baricitinibTrusted Source and a monoclonal antibody treatment called sotrovimab-Trusted Source.

As highly infectious Omicron vari-ant COVID-19 renders many key treatments inef-fective, a World Health Organization (WHO) panel has recommended using two more drugs against the virus.

The WHO guidelines, recently published-Trusted Source in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), strongly recommend the use of baricitinibTrusted Source as an alternative to interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor blockers, in combination with corti-costeroids, for people experiencing “severe or criti-cal” COVID-19.

Baricitinib is an oral drugTrusted Source often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It works by blocking certain enzymes that can lead to inflammation. The WHO also gave “conditional recommendation” for using the monoclonal antibody drug sotrovimab-Trusted Source in patients with non-severe COVID-19 and restricted its use for those at highest risk of hospitalization.

Baricitinib was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration last July to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients 2 years and older who need treatments that include supplemental oxygen or a ventilator. The WHO experts noted that baricitinib has similar effects to IL-6 blockers, and when both are available, healthcare professionals should choose based on cost, availability, and clinician experience. Joan Kapusnik-Uner, PharmD, and vice president of Clinical Content at First Data-bank (FDB), explained that IL-6 receptor blockers are a drug that blocks a protein called cytokine, which is produced as part of our immune response.

In some people with COVID-19, the immune system can launch a “cytokine stormTrusted Source” that can be dangerous for the patient. She added that it also can activate “B cells where it importantly results in increased antibody production.”

According to WHO, these recommendations are based on evidence from 7 trials involving over 4,000 patients experiencing non-severe, severe, and critical COVID-19. “WHO is in discussions with manufacturers to secure global supply capacity and equitable and sustainable access to the newly rec-ommended therapeutics,” the WHO wrote in a statementTrusted Source.

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