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A systematic review and meta-analysis of Anakinra, Sarilumab, Siltuximab and Tocilizumab for Covid-19

Khan, Fasihul; Fabbri, Laura; Stewart, Iain; Robinson A., Karen; Smyth, Alan R; Jenkins, Gisli


Fasihul Khan

Laura Fabbri

Iain Stewart

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Professor in Gastrointestinal Infection and Immunity

Alan R Smyth

Gisli Jenkins


Background There is accumulating evidence for an overly activated immune response in severe Covid-19, with several studies exploring the therapeutic role of immunomodulation. Through systematic review and meta-analysis, we assess the effectiveness of specific interleukin inhibitors for the treatment of Covid-19.

Methods Electronic databases were searched on 7th January 2021 to identify studies of immunomodulatory agents (anakinra, sarilumab, siltuximab and tocilizumab) for the treatment of Covid-19. The primary outcomes were severity on an ordinal scale measured at day 15 from intervention and days to hospital discharge. Key secondary endpoints included overall mortality.

Results 71 studies totalling 22,058 patients were included, six were randomised trials. Most explored outcomes in patients who received tocilizumab (59/71). In prospective studies, tocilizumab was associated with improved unadjusted survival (RR 0.83 95%CI 0.72;0.96 I2 = 0.0%), but conclusive benefit was not demonstrated for other outcomes. In retrospective studies, tocilizumab was associated with less severe outcomes on an ordinal scale (Generalised odds ratio 1.34 95%CI 1.10;1.64, I2=98%) and adjusted mortality risk (HR 0.52 95%CI 0.41;0.66, I2 =76.6%). The mean difference in duration of hospitalisation was 0.36 days (95%CI -0.07;0.80, I2 =93.8%). There was substantial heterogeneity in retrospective studies, and estimates should be interpreted cautiously. Other immunomodulatory agents showed similar effects to tocilizumab, but insufficient data precluded meta-analysis by agent.

Conclusion Tocilizumab was associated with a lower relative risk of mortality in prospective studies, but effects were inconclusive for other outcomes. Current evidence for the efficacy of anakinra, siltuximab or sarilumab in Covid-19 is insufficient, with further studies urgently needed for conclusive findings.


Khan, F., Fabbri, L., Stewart, I., Robinson A., K., Smyth, A. R., & Jenkins, G. A systematic review and meta-analysis of Anakinra, Sarilumab, Siltuximab and Tocilizumab for Covid-19

Deposit Date Apr 21, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2023
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