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This Drug Could Save You From COVID Death, Study Finds

Researchers may have found an effective treatment for severe cases.

A commonly used arthritis drug may cut the death rate from severe COVID-19, a new study says. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who were given tocilizumab were less likely to die or need to be placed on a ventilator, according to a study published on the pre-print server medRXiv. (It has not yet been peer-reviewed.) Tocilizumab is an anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibody frequently used for rheumatoid arthritis. It blocks an inflammatory protein called IL-6, which can reduce pain and swelling from arthritis and other conditions that cause inflammation.  Read on to see the proof—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Tocilizumab Reduced the Risk of Death by COVID by 14%, According to Researchers

"We think about half the patients admitted would benefit from this drug based on our calculations," said Peter Horby, a professor of medicine at the University of Oxford. "We think that can be happening almost immediately."

The trial found that tocilizumab reduced the risk of death by 14% compared to patients who received standard care. It also cut the number of patients who needed to be placed on a ventilator by 5%. 

Most of the patients in the trial received tocilizumab in addition to dexamethasone, a steroid that has been shown to benefit hospitalized COVID patients. 

"Our data suggest that in COVID-19 patients who are hypoxic and have evidence of systematic inflammation, treatment with a combination of a systemic corticosteroid plus tocilizumab would be expected to reduce mortality by about one-third for patients receiving simple oxygen and nearly one-half for those receiving invasive mechanical ventilation," the researchers wrote.

"Now we can reduce the risk of death by anything between about a third and up to half [compared to the beginning of the pandemic last spring], depending on exactly which patients are treated," said Martin Landray, a professor at the University of Oxford.

COVID-19 seems to cause inflammation that can damage various organs throughout the body, including the lungs, blood vessels, brain and kidneys. In severe cases, that inflammation can lead to difficulty breathing and ultimately organ failure from a lack of oxygen. 

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors

How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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