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Aussie researchers join the support of new drugs battling COVID-19

Aussie researchers join the support of new drugs battling COVID-19


SYDNEY, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — Several new drugs to treat COVID-19 patients have been recommended by an international panel of medical experts including from Australia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Guideline Development Group, which includes researchers from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, published their findings in the BMJ medical trade journal on Friday.

The report, based on results from seven trials involving more than 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe and critical COVID-19 infections, showed that the drug baricitinib, in combination with a group of anti-inflammatory drugs called corticosteroids, improved the survival rate of severe and critical cases and reduced their need for ventilation.

Baricitinib is a type of drug known as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor and is usually used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers say another arthritis drug, interleukin-6 (IL-6), could also be used to treat COVID-19, however, trials of two other JAK inhibitors, ruxolitinib and tofacitinib, had failed to show benefits against the disease, with tofacitinib even possibly causing serious side effects.

The WHO team has also made a “conditional recommendation” for the use of the monoclonal antibody (MAB) sotrovimab in cases of COVID-19 where patients are at risk of being hospitalized.

A similar recommendation has been made by the WHO for another MAB drug, casirivimab-imdevimab. The experts note, however, there is, to date, insufficient data to recommend one MAB treatment over another.

The experts also acknowledge the effectiveness of MABs against new COVID-19 variants such as Omicron remain uncertain and they will update their guidelines when additional data becomes available.

The report, which they describe as “living guidelines”, aims to help doctors make better decisions with COVID-19 patients.

Living guidelines are useful in fast-moving research areas such as COVID-19 because they allow researchers to update previously peer-reviewed evidence summaries as new information becomes available.


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