Severely ill Covid-19 patients fared better when they received remdesivir and tocilizumab, two experimental drugs given individually or in combination, than those who did not get them, observed doctors from KEM Hospital, a premier medical college and hospital. The survival rate in patients receiving either or both the drugs was 64%; it dropped to 34% among those who did not get any of the two. In the group that benefitted, the rate of discharge among those given only remdesivir was 66%, for those who got only tocilizumab it was 80%, and 47% among those given both the drugs combined.
The doctors studied the effect of remdesivir and tocilizumab on 521 patients at KEM hospital and compared it with retrospective clinical details of 214 patients from a time when they were not available as experimental drugs for Covid (from March 23 to May 31, 2020).
Of the 334 (64%) patients discharged after being given either or both the drugs, only five needed supplemental oxygen. The doctors’ observational study was published on July 1 in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India.
The doctors found that hospitalisation (median days) was maximum in the tocilizumab group — 47 days. It was 14 days in the remdesivir group and 10 in the group receiving both drugs. Patients requiring vasopressors, medicines that help in tightening blood vessels and raising blood pressure, had higher mortality, said Dr Vishal Gupta, associate professor, intensive care, department of medicine, from the hospital and also the principal investigator of the study.
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