An arthritis drug has been found to reduce the number of deaths among patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 by two-thirds – giving doctors a powerful new weapon in their arsenal against the disease.
According to researchers, the daily pill, initially named as a potential change for Covid by a British company, reduces the number of deaths by 71% in people with moderate or severe illness.
Mostly, it works in the elderly, raising hopes of saving the most vulnerable.
Called baricitinib and marketed under the brand name Olumiant, it is a relatively new drug for rheumatoid arthritis that has only been available for three years.
An arthritis drug has been found to reduce the number of deaths among hospitalized patients with Covid-19 by two-thirds. Image: Stock
But in February, he was identified as a strong candidate to help deal with what was then the new threat of Covid-19.
The drug was chosen by London-based BenevolentAI, who has examined thousands of existing drugs for signs that they could fight Covid.
Its artificial intelligence program predicted that baricitinib “would reduce the ability of the virus to infect lung cells.”
Now, the idea has been validated by pan-European researchers, led by the Swedish Karolinska Institute, reporting that baricitinib reduces death rates by two-thirds in people admitted to hospital with the disease.
Researchers say the daily pill, originally named as a potential change in Covid by a UK company, reduced the number of deaths in people with moderate to severe illness by 71%. Image: Stock
The development came as:
- Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline told the Mail on Sunday it had already manufactured “millions of doses” of a vaccine and hopes it will be available alongside another vaccine developed by Pfizer earlier this year. next;
- Yesterday, 26,860 more cases of Covid were recorded – a weekly increase of 7.6% – as well as 462 deaths within 28 days of a positive test;
- Professor Susan Michie, member of the Government’s Science Advisory Group for Emergencies, urged the public to redouble their efforts so that they are “able” to spend Christmas with their loved ones;
- Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that England saw a 4% increase in daily infections in the first week of November, suggesting its spread was slowing;
- The bosses of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have asked that passengers be allowed to undergo tests before leaving the UK rather than being quarantined for two weeks after their return.
Called baricitinib, and marketed under the brand name Olumiant, it is a relatively new drug for rheumatoid arthritis that has only been available for three years.
Last night, Professor Justin Stebbing, NHS cancer specialist, Imperial College London, predicted that baricitinib would help save thousands of lives. He said: “The history of treatments for Covid has not left many drugs hanging. What remains standing are two drugs discovered by the British.
The other is the steroid dexamethasone, which reduces the risk of death in critically ill Covid patients by 33%.
The results, in the journal Science Advances, come from patients hospitalized with Covid-19 pneumonia at two hospitals, in Italy and Spain.
Professor Volker Lauschke, from Karolinska, who led the study, said: “These results are particularly encouraging as the study included a large cohort of elderly patients, a group that is often excluded. “