Objectives: To assess the safety and efficacy of interleukin (IL)-6 blockade with sarilumab in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and systemic hyperinflammation. Methods: We conducted an open-label study of sarilumab in severe COVID-19 pneumonia (PaO2/FiO2 <300 mm Hg) with hyperinflammation (elevated inflammatory markers and serum IL-6 levels). Sarilumab 400 mg was administered intravenously in addition to standard of care and results were compared with contemporary matched patients treated with standard of care alone. Clinical improvement, mortality, safety and predictors of response were assessed at 28 days. Results: Twenty-eight patients were treated with sarilumab and 28 contemporary patients receiving standard of care alone were used as controls. At day 28 of follow-up, 61% of patients treated with sarilumab experienced clinical improvement and 7% died. These findings were not significantly different from the comparison group (clinical improvement 64%, mortality 18%; p=NS). Baseline PaO2/FiO2 ratio >100 mm Hg and lung consolidation <17% at CT scan predicted clinical improvement in patients treated with sarilumab. Median time to clinical improvement in patients with lung consolidation <17% was shorter after sarilumab (10 days) than after standard treatment (24 days; p=0.01). The rate of infection and pulmonary thrombosis was similar between the two groups. Conclusions: At day 28, overall clinical improvement and mortality in patients with severe COVID-19 were not significantly different between sarilumab and standard of care. Sarilumab was associated with faster recovery in a subset of patients showing minor lung consolidation at baseline.
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