Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) has demonstrated that an anti-inflammatory treatment, tocilizumab, reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19. The study also showed that tocilizumab shortens the time until patients are successfully discharged from hospital and reduces the need for a mechanical ventilator.

Vial of Tocilizumab

The RECOVERY trial has been testing a range of potential treatments for COVID-19 since March 2020. Tocilizumab, an intravenous drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was added to the trial in April 2020 for patients with COVID-19 who required oxygen and had evidence of inflammation. Recruitment to the tocilizumab arm stopped on 24 January 2021 since, in the view of the trial Steering Committee, sufficient patients had been enrolled to establish whether or not the drug had a meaningful benefit.

A total of 2022 patients were randomly allocated to receive tocilizumab by intravenous infusion and were compared with 2094 patients randomly allocated to usual care alone. 82% of patients were taking a systemic steroid such as dexamethasone.

Treatment with tocilizumab significantly reduced deaths: 596 (29%) of the patients in the tocilizumab group died within 28 days compared with 694 (33%) patients in the usual care group (rate ratio 0·86; [95% confidence interval [CI] 0·77 to 0·96]; p=0·007), an absolute difference of 4%. This means that for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, one additional life would be saved. Tocilizumab also increased the probability of discharge alive within 28 days from 47% to 54% (rate ratio 1·23, [95% CI 1·12 to 1·34], p<0·0001). These benefits were seen in all patient subgroups, including those requiring oxygen via a simple face mask through to those requiring mechanical ventilators in an intensive care unit.

Among patients not on invasive mechanical ventilation when entered into the trial, tocilizumab significantly reduced the chance of progressing to invasive mechanical ventilation or death from 38% to 33% (risk ratio 0·85, [95% CI 0·78 to 0·93], p=0·0005). However, there was no evidence that tocilizumab had any effect on the chance of successful cessation of invasive mechanical ventilation.

Read the full story on the RECOVERY Trial website.

Similar stories

COVID-19 increased public trust in science, new survey shows

A survey of over 2000 British adults has found that public trust in science, particularly genetics, increased significantly during the pandemic. However, those with extremely negative attitudes towards science tend to have high self-belief in their own understanding despite low textbook knowledge.

Gero Miesenböck awarded 2023 Japan Prize

Congratulations to Professor Gero Miesenböck, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG), who has been awarded the 2023 Japan Prize in the field of Life Sciences, together with Professor Karl Deisseroth, for pioneering work in the field of optogenetics.

Major funding for Oxford will help find new cancer treatments

Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Research are investing over £3 million across the next five years into The University of Oxford’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC). The investment will enable Oxford to expand its portfolio of precision prevention and early detection cancer trials.

Daniel Freeman to join Department of Experimental Psychology as Professor of Psychology

The Department of Experimental Psychology are delighted to announce that Daniel Freeman has been appointed as their new Professor of Psychology, joining from the Department of Psychiatry.

New study reveals role of lymphatic system in bone healing

It was previously assumed that bones lacked lymphatic vessels, but new research from the MRC Human Immunology Unit at Oxford's MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine not only locates them within bone tissue, but demonstrates their role in bone and blood cell regeneration and reveals changes associated with aging.

Vaccination shown to protect against pregnancy complications from COVID-19 Omicron variant

The global network led by the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute (OMPHI) at the University of Oxford has today published, in The Lancet, the results of the ‘2022 INTERCOVID Study’ conducted in 41 hospitals across 18 countries.