Amid Covid-19 surge, WHO recommends 2 new drugs to treat virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended two new drugs to treat the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)- Baricitinib and Sotrovimab.
According to a statement issued by the WHO on January 14, Baricitinib is recommended for treating patients suffering with severe or critical Covid-19. It is a part of class drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system. The UN health body has recommended that it is given with corticosteroids.
Baricitinib is essentially an oral drug that is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis. On January 14, Eli Lilly & Co's Baricitinib won the WHO's backing for treating Covid-19 patients.
International body Doctors Without Borders last week called on governments to make sure that baricitinib is made available at a lower cost in poorer countries and said that generic forms of the drug are already sold in India and Bangladesh.
On the other hand, Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody drug, is recommended for treating patients who have mild or moderate Covid-19 and are at a high risk of hospitalisation.
Even though studies are still going on regarding the monoclonal antibodies against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19, early laboratory studies show that Sotrovimab retains its activity. It is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline with Vir Biotechnology Inc.
In 2021, another monoclonal antibody developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc received an endorsement from the WHO. However, the UN health body said there wasn't sufficient data to recommend one product over the other.
The recommendation given to Baricitinib and Sotrovimab was based on evidence from seven trials involving over 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical Covid-19, the WHO statement on 14 January said.
Apart from these, two more drugs-Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib- are being looked at. The WHO has made a conditional recommendation against their use due to their uncertain effects.