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Efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in the management of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

1, 2, 3


  1. Independent Researcher and Consultant, Kengeri, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
  2. Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Phytochemistry, Nirmala College of Pharmacy, Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh, India.
  3. Independent Researcher, Kengeri, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

2022 Vol.40, N°3
PI 0634, PF 0646

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PMID: 34251307 [PubMed]

Received: 10/03/2021
Accepted : 14/04/2021
In Press: 07/07/2021
Published: 22/03/2022


This systematic review and meta-analysis was aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab (TCZ) in treating severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The electronic search was made using PubMed, Scopus, CENTRAL, and Google scholar to identify the retrospective observational reports. The studies published from 01 January 2020 to 30th October 2020. Participants were hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Interventions included tocilizumab versus placebo/standard of care. The comparison will be between TCZ versus standard of care (SOC)/placebo. Inconsistency between the studies was evaluated with I2 and quality of the evidences were evaluated by Newcastle-Ottawa scale.
Based on the inclusion criteria there were 24 retrospective studies involving 5686 subjects were included. The outcomes of the meta-analysis have revealed that the TCZ has reduced mortality (M-H, RE-OR -0.11(-0.18–-0.04) 95% CI, p=0.001, I2 =88%) and increased the incidences of super-infections (M-H, RE-OR 1.49(1.13–1.96) 95% CI, p=0.004, I2=47%). However, there is no significant difference in ICU admissions rate (M-H, RE-OR -0.06(-0.23–0.12), I2=93%), need for mechanical ventilation (M-H, RE-OR of 0.00(-0.06–0.07), I=74%), LOS (IV -2.86(-0.91–3.38), I2=100%), LOS-ICU (IV: -3.93(-12.35–4.48), I2=100%), and incidences of pulmonary thrombosis (MH, RE-OR 1.01 (0.45–2.26), I2=0%) compared to SOC/control.
Based on cumulative low-to-moderate certainty evidence shows that TCZ could reduce the risk of mortality in hospitalised patients. However, there is no statistically significant difference observed between the TCZ and SOC/control groups in other parameters.


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