COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

COVID-19 Evidence Alerts needs your support. If our service is of value to you, please consider giving to keep it going. Learn more Give now

Treatment Snow TAC, Saleem N, Ambler G, et al. Tocilizumab in COVID-19: a meta-analysis, trial sequential analysis, and meta-regression of randomized-controlled trials. Intensive Care Med. 2021 Jun;47(6):641-652. doi: 10.1007/s00134-021-06416-z. Epub 2021 May 21.

PURPOSE: Interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels discriminate between patients with mild and severe COVID-19, making IL-6 inhibition an attractive therapeutic strategy. We conducted a systematic review, meta-analysis, trial sequential analysis (TSA), and meta-regression of randomized-controlled trials to ascertain the benefit of IL-6 blockade with tocilizumab for COVID-19.

METHODS: We included randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) allocating patients with COVID-19 to tocilizumab. Our control group included standard care or placebo. Trials co-administering other pharmacological interventions for COVID-19 were not excluded. Primary outcome was 28-30 day mortality. Secondary outcomes included progression-to-severe disease defined as need for mechanical ventilation, intensive-care unit (ICU) admission, or a composite.

RESULTS: We identified 10 RCTs using tocilizumab, 9 of which reported primary outcome data (mortality), recruiting 6493 patients with 3358 (52.2%) allocated to tocilizumab. Tocilizumab may be associated with an improvement in mortality (24.4% vs. 29.0%; OR 0.87 [0.74-1.01]; p = 0.07; I2 = 10%; TSA adjusted CI 0.66-1.14). Meta-regression suggested a relationship between treatment effect and mortality risk, with benefit at higher levels of risk (logOR vs %risk beta = -0.018 [-0.037 to -0.002]; p = 0.07). Tocilizumab did reduce the need for mechanical ventilation and was associated with a benefit in the composite secondary outcome but did not reduce ICU admission.

CONCLUSIONS: For hospitalized COVID-19 patients, there is some evidence that tocilizumab use may be associated with a short-term mortality benefit, but further high-quality data are required. Its benefits may also lie in reducing the need for mechanical ventilation.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Intensivist/Critical Care
Infectious Disease
Coming soon...
Comments from MORE raters

Respirology/Pulmonology rater

Another inconclusive review. Do we need it?