This Medication Could Slash Your Risk of Dying From COVID, Experts Say

A recent study has found a potential new treatment for coronavirus.

When the coronavirus behind COVID-19 surfaced last year, experts weren't exactly prepared. The virus quickly spread from person to person with no real treatment available because the virus was so new—and those infections have since resulted in millions of deaths. Researchers from the University of Oxford created the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial in March 2020 to study and pinpoint possible treatments for COVID. In a new study from the trial, the researchers concluded that one medication already used to treat a common health condition may actually help prevent death in those who get infected with the coronavirus. Read on to find out which medication could prove life-saving to COVID patients, and for more medical interventions, This Over-the-Counter Medication Can Kill COVID, Study Says.

A rheumatoid arthritis medication has been found to reduce the risk of death for those with severe COVID.

One nurse looking at the medical ventilator screen.
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Researchers from the University of Oxford targeted more than 2,000 COVID patients at random to receive tocilizumab, a medication created to treat people with rheumatoid arthritis and known by the brand name Actemra. Based on the results, published Feb. 11, the researchers found that tocilizumab can reduce the risk of death in hospitalized patients with severe COVID. While 33 percent of the patients not treated with this medication died, only 29 percent of those who received tocilizumab ended up dying. "This means that for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, one additional life would be saved," the researchers noted. And for more on your coronavirus risk, If You've Done This, You're Twice as Likely to Develop Severe COVID.

This medication can also shorten the length of time and care needed for COVID hospitalization.

Doctor listening patient's heartbeat at hospital room
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Taking this drug may also help someone with severe COVID leave the hospital sooner, researchers found. According to the study, tocilizumab increased the probability of hospital discharge within 28 days from 47 percent to 54 percent. And as for patients who were not already on a ventilator before the study, this medication reduced patients' chances of needing a ventilator from 38 percent to 33 percent.

"Previous trials of tocilizumab had shown mixed results, and it was unclear which patients might benefit from the treatment. We now know that the benefits of tocilizumab extend to all COVID patients with low oxygen levels and significant inflammation," Peter Horby, MD, a professor of emerging infectious diseases and joint chief investigator for RECOVERY, said in a statement. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Researchers advise using this medication alongside another known treatment.

Female doctor working in hospital, holding intravenous drip, accuracy, protection, care
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In June 2020, researchers for this trial found that dexamethasone, a cortisone-like steroid which relieves inflammation, also reduces death for patients with severe COVID. Researchers noted that 82 percent of the patients in their new study for tocilizumab were also taking a systemic steroid such as dexamethasone. This type of steroid has become a "standard-of-care" given to patients hospitalized with severe COVID, researchers noted. Based on their findings, the "benefits of tocilizumab were clearly seen to be in addition to those of steroid."

"The results from the RECOVERY trial clearly show the benefits of tocilizumab and dexamethasone in tackling the worst consequences of COVID-19–improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators," Martin Landray, PhD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology and joint chief investigator, said in a statement. "Used in combination, the impact is substantial." And for more ways to stay healthy, These 3 Vitamins Could Save You From Severe COVID, Study Finds.

The FDA has already authorized various treatments for COVID.

Male and female doctors discussing while standing in ICU. Healthcare workers are protective workwear. They are at hospital.
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While this study comes from the U.K., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may at some point consider this treatment for use in this country. To date, the FDA has already approved one medication, Remdesivir, to treat COVID and authorized several monoclonal antibody treatments for emergency use. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were previously authorized for emergency use, but this was revoked in June after further data showed they had no benefit on decreasing the likelihood of death from COVID. And for more essential guidance from the FDA, If You See This on Your Mask, the FDA Says Toss It Immediately.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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