All publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Coronavirus, COVID-19, cytokine release storm, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, tocilizumab



Background: Cytokine release storm (CRS) in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS CoV-2) is thought to be the cause for organ damage and death which is independent of the actual viral burden. Tocilizumab (TCZ), an interleukin-6 receptor antagonist, is approved for the treatment of CRS. We describe the efficacy and safety of TCZ in SARS CoV-2 pneumonia. Methods: This retrospective study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital from April 20 2020 to May 21 2020. The primary endpoint was the cumulative incidence of a composite of either need for admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) with invasive mechanical ventilation or death. Safety outcomes included an increase in liver transaminases and/or evidence of infection. Results: A total of 20 patients received TCZ during the study period. The median age was 54 years (95% confidence interval [CI] 47–63). About 85% of the patients were male. Nearly 70% of the patients had at least one comorbidity. About 55% required ICU admission. The median duration of ICU stay was 11 days (95% CI: 3–13 days). The cumulative incidence of the requirement for mechanical ventilation, clinical improvement and mortality was 11% (95% CI: 0.03%–1%), 74% (95% CI 37%–89%) and 25% (95% CI: 11%–63%), respectively. There was no difference in outcomes according to age, gender or computed tomography severity score. Asymptomatic transaminitis was the most common drug reaction (55%), and one patient developed bacteraemia. Conclusions: TCZ is likely a safe and effective modality of treatment for improving clinical and laboratory parameters of SARS CoV-2 patients with a reduction in ICU stay and ventilatory care need.

Rights Information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, v. 38, issue 1, p. 116-122