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SSRN; 2020.
Preprint | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-5138


Background: Tocilizumab is reported to be able to attenuate the "cytokine storm" in COVID-19 patients. We tried to ascertain the effectiveness and safety of tocilizumab in COVID-19 and identify patients most likely to be benefit from the treatment. Methods: This was a randomized, controlled, open-label, multicenter trial at 6 hospitals in Anhui and Hubei. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either tocilizumab in addition to standard care, or standard care alone. The first dose of tocilizumab was 400 mg, diluted in 100 ml 0.9% saline, and intravenous dripped in more than 1 h. A second dose was given if a patient remained febrile for 24 hours after the first dose. The primary endpoint was the cure rate. Primary analysis was done in the intention -to -treat (ITT) population and safety analysis was done in all patients who started their assigned treatment. Findings: Between Feb 13, 2020, and March 13, 2020, 65 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to a treatment group (33 to tocilizumab and 32 to the controls). One patient in the control group, who aggravated severely 3 days after randomization, was transferred to the tocilizumab group. The cure rate in tocilizumab group was higher than that in the controls but not significant (94.12% vs 87.10%, P=0.4133). Adverse events were recorded in 20 (58.82%) of 34 tocilizumab recipients versus 4 (12.90%) of 31 in the controls. No serious adverse events were reported in tocilizumab group. Interpretation: Tocilizumab treatment did not increase the cure rate of COVID-19. A large scale of study enrolling more patients is needed. However,tocilizumab can improve oxygenation without significant influence on the time virus load tunes negative. For patients with bilateral pulmonary lesions and elevated IL-6 levels, tocilizumab should be recommended for better disease management. Trial Registration: This trial was registered in Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (Number: ChiCTR2000029765). Funding: This work was supported by Department of Science and Technology of Anhui Province and Health Commission of Anhui Province (grant number: 202004a07020001) and the China National Center for Biotechnology Development (grant number: 2020YFC0843800).