Coronavirus: Tocilizumab, "a serious lead" but "without enough back up" Olivier Véran says

Published by Manon C. · Published on 29 April 2020 at 14h36 · Updated on 29 April 2020 at 14h59
The AP-HP has just revealed the first results of the clinical trial carried out in 13 hospitals in France on the use of Tocilizumab, a medication generally used in rheumatology in order to lower the number of patients in ICU. First results are promising.

As all scientists and doctors in France and the world are tirelessly looking for a cure to coronavirus, the AP-HP has just revealed the first results of a clinical trial led in 13 hospitals in France.

Several hospitals have developed a promising medication, enabling to reduce the immune runaway of infected patients. It is that very runaway that would be responsible for a large number of admissions in intensive care.

In order to regulate the immune action and improve the organism’s inflammatory reaction, a natural response to an aggression, the immune system produces and frees molecules names cytokines. For all that, the immune system gets carried away and cause a hyper-inflammatory reaction” medicine department at the Foch hospital explains. “This immune runaway can then be the cause of respiratory distress leading to admission in intensive care”.

To try and block this immune runaway, the clinical trial carried out in 13 hospitals and coordinated by the AP-HP and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research has been conducted on 129 patients hospitalized for mild or serious coronavirus infection, “but not requiring intensive care when checked in”.

Among those patients, 65 of them have received the usual treatment mixed with Tocilizumab, a medication usually used in rheumatology to reduce the inflammation as part of some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis; and the 64 left only got the usual treatment.

The use of Tocilizumab enabled to see in patients treated a clear reduction of the use of mechanic breathing support, in comparison with patients who have not been given it. As a matter of fact, doctors assessed the percentage of patients suffering from coronavirus checked in intensive care or diseased. This rate “considerably decreased” in those who took Tocilizumab, Professor Olivier Hermine, hematologist at the Necker hospital, is happy to say as he is also coordinating this trial named Corimuno-19.

Very promising results, specially since Tocilizumab medication causes very little side effects and is very-well tolerated. “These results should be confirmed in an independent fashion with extra trials” the AP-HP says in a press release published this Monday April 27.

This Wednesday April 20, Minister of Health Olivier Véran said on Franceinfo that Tocilizumab "is an interesting and serious lead" but "without enough back up to be able to shout eureka and think we have a fully effective medication".

"I take this as a sign of hope. Careful, because you know, I am like French, when I am told a medication works, I think great, we finally have something that works. [But] I have been disappointed several times by studies when they were complete and on an enough number of sick. I asked scientific proofreading committee to check that all data allow us to keep on going that way".

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