Arthritis drug baricitinib could reduce COVID death rate in elderly

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A drug used to treat arthritis may reduce the risk of dying in elderly patients with COVID-19.

Baricitinib, usually used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was given to 83 patients with a median age of 81 suffering from moderate to severe COVID-19 infection, in an early stage study led by scientists from the Imperial College, London, and the Karolinska Institutek, Sweden.

“In the study, the patients, who were in multiple hospitals across Italy and Spain, had a 71 per cent reduced risk of dying compared to patients who had not taken the drug. The study also found that 17 per cent of patients who were given the drug died or needed to go on a ventilator, compared to 35 per cent in the control group who were not given the medication,” the study’s authors said in a news release.

The study’s co-lead author, Professor Justin Stebbing, from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College, said: “We urgently need to find more effective treatments for COVID-19 while we wait for a vaccine to become widely available. This is one of the first COVID-19 treatments to go from computer to clinic and laboratory. It was first identified by an AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm in February, which scanned thousands of potential drugs that could work against this virus.

“The study suggests this drug can aid recovery of patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 and may provide a new weapon in our arsenal against the virus. Large-scale clinical trials of this drug, to further investigate its potential, are now underway”.

Baricitinib is currently administered to adult patients who can’t use other anti-rheumatic drugs.

In the research, scientists grew miniature human organs in the lab, called organoids, to investigate how the drug might work against COVID-19. The findings revealed the drug may help by reducing organ damage caused by inflammation, and by blocking the virus entering human cells.

“When infected with the COVID-19 virus, the body releases different types of inflammatory molecules, called chemokines and cytokines. These molecules act as the early warning system for the body, telling the immune system the body is under attack.

“However, in the case of COVID-19, particular cytokine and chemokines, including those called interleukins and interferons, cause this warning system to spiral out of control, and trigger a so-called ‘cytokine storm’. This cytokine storm not only causes significant damage to the body’s organs, but the study revealed it also helps the virus gain access inside human cells.”

The study revealed that the cytokine interferon increases the number of receptors for the virus, allowing the virus into the body’s cells.

Baricitinib blocks this process.

Arthritis Australia says baricitinib blocks an enzyme that “helps the transmission of signals from the surface of a cell, which normally will cause increased inflammation. “By blocking these signals baricitinib helps reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, resulting in less pain, swelling and stiffness and reduced joint damage.”

It usually helps patients withing two to four weeks and is administered once a day by tablet. It is associated with an increase in infections and is not prescribed if a patient has an active infection of any kind.

Australian health authorities say the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age. The highest rate of fatalities is among older people, particularly those with other serious health conditions or a weakened immune system.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurs.

“As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.

“Eight out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.”

The CDC says those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, should consider their level of risk before deciding to go out.

“Consider avoiding activities where taking protective measures may be difficult, such as activities where social distancing can’t be maintained.

“In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

If you do go out, have a mask, a sanitiser made of at least 60 per cent alcohol and keep your distance from people not wearing masks.

Are you still concerned about going out in public in Australia, despite low levels of COVID-19?

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Written by Will Brodie


Total Comments: 8
  1. 0

    So Will, you bring up this arthritis drug, what about HCQ or Ivermectin, already being talked about and used with zinc early in infection, is there some sort of chemical company battle going on , when apparently Hydroxychloroquine is used widely and succesfully all over India, what is happening Will Brodie , delve into that one?

    • 0

      The MSM has been pushing vaccine as the only solution ever since shortly after the start. Clearly this
      is to allow big pharma to sell lots of vaccine – some they have sold to governments before the testing
      is even complete.

      With about 90% effectiveness theraputics are still needed. Had effective theraputics been
      made widely available (as they are in other parts of the world) nobody would be interested
      in vaccination and we would have saved many lives which have now been lost.

      If you read what’s happening on other parts of the world you get a different story altogether.

      Another thing the universally anti-Trump MSM is doing is exaggerating the US death toll by quoting the total number. They have huge population. Per capita it’s not much different to most European countries.

      By what mechanism does big pharma get all this influence. I don’t believe that there is a well-defined
      conspiracy but they get the media result they want.

      Don’t forget that tte original shortage of HCQ in Australia was caused by doctors, dentists and vets prescibing it
      for themselves and their families. It has been around for many decades. In many countries it was available
      without prescription. When it becomes a competitor to vaccination it suddenly becomes dangerous.

      And that’s the WHO pushing that line.

      I can entertain arguments about its efficacy but I can’t buy that at any price.

    • 0

      Gosh adbob, do you really think that untold number of medical professionals sat on their hands and did nothing. Finding a therapeutic drugs is not hit or miss or suck it and see, it is guided by very strict protocols to ensure that any candidate drugs may be effective and more importantly may not be harmful. This is where AI comes into play. Without computing power it could take years to sift through possible drug combinations. Like all computer simulations AI is only as accurate as the input data and ten months ago we had little to go by.
      As for Hydroxychloroquine, while it was touted as a possible anti-covid-19 drug it was not recommended (except by a few, including non-medical persons). I asked my GP, admittedly not an expert in the field, about Hydroxychloroquine and he commented that he doubted it’s usefulness as the chemistry was all wrong. Pharmacology not being my field of expertise I accepted his comment without hesitation.
      The shortage of Hydroxychloroquine may or may not have been the result of doctors self prescribing, but I am more inclined to accept that certain individuals buying millions of doses for their own benefit caused any perceived shortage. This individuals motive may have been altruistic rather than eyeing a good profit opportunity but there was not a real shortage. A friend of my daughter who suffers from Lupus has had Hydroxychloroquine prescribed for years, she tells us she had no difficulty obtaining it from her pharmacy.

  2. 0

    “We urgently need to find more effective treatments for COVID-19 while we wait for a vaccine to become widely available”. What a mealy-mouthed statement from a so-called medical expert. He, and the whole profession have had a year to find ways and means to counter the covid-19 virus, and what have they done? Nothing. They sit and wait for a vaccine and let untold thousands of people die. Even this arthritis drug was found by artificial intelligence – which says a lot about their efforts. What is most galling is that, in a world full of plants and substances with amazing therapeutic qualities, our ‘experts’ only want to look at, and deal with, man-made pharmaceutical products. Either they have vested interests, or they lack real understanding of medicine. One wonders how the world survived epidemics and pandemics before the advent of the pharmaceutical industry.

    • 0

      Pandemics do eventually blow over of their own accord – we don’t know exactly why but they do. Not saying this one is not real but big pharma knows it only has a limit window in which to successfully market vaccines – and of course the best money is to be made in the rich industrialised world – the news elsewhere is quite different. Hence the demonising of any alternative approaches.

      Many doctors are looking after themselves. Few are willing to face the wrath of big pharma and its lawyers and spin doctors.

  3. 0

    @Eddy above re HCQ – ” he doubted it’s usefulness as the chemistry was all wrong.”

    Suggest you change GPs.

    One thing not disputed is the chemical likelihood of HCQ antagonising COVID-19 virus multiplication. It works in vitro – no argument.

    Your people really need to educate their spin doctors before they have them argue
    with medial doctors. Of course pretending that HCQ was now actually dangerous
    (after it has been widely used without harm for many generations) demonstrates the
    ability of big pharma to whistle up so-called gold-standard studies which say
    whatever they want them to say.

    One of the world’s leading virologists Didier Raoult has found that it works in practice as well and has been successfully using it and reporting one its success as have various US clinicians. He now has big pharma and the French medical establishment trying to close him down – others be warned.

    • 0

      No arbob, I am not going to change my GP, I trust him. I trust him a lot more than some of these people who get a voice and try to sow irrational theories about Covid-19, and other subjects.
      I Googled your source Didier Raoult, less said the better except to say the worldwide scientific community is almost unanimous in condemnation of his theories and practices. I do not accept Didier Raoult to be a credible source of anything.

    • 0

      I am not really interested in the views of people who merely quote others whom they trust on account of their credentials.

      If you can’t run and understand the arguments butt out altogether.

      PR work is often mainly about generating a seemingly vast majority for a particular point of view and closing down (cancelling) any alternative. There’s a lot of it about.



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