Covid: what are baricitinib and sotrovimab, the new drugs authorized by the WHO to treat cases of the disease

El baricitinib se usa en el tratamiento de la artitris en varios países alrededor del mundo.

The World Health Organization authorized the use of the drugs baricitinib and sotrovimab for the treatment of covid-19.

According to the information provided by the WHO, the endorsement of the use of these drugs was given after several evaluations made mainly by international experts who work in a Guideline Development Group of the health agency and whose results were published in the British Medical Journal.

The baricitinib is an anti-inflammatory used especially in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, while Sotromivab is a drug newor which has been tested to treat patients at risk of developing moderate to severe covid-19 and is in use in the United Kingdom, among other countries.

In the research published by the WHO working group, the use of baricitinib is recommended in severe patients, since it increases the probability of surviving the complications that the coronavirus can cause, in addition to reducing the need for mechanical ventilation.

While sotrovimab is recommended in moderate cases to prevent them from getting worse.

The study also found that it has no severe side effects.

The WHO also discouraged the use of two other drugs: ruxolitinib and tofacitinib, because the evaluations that have been made with them did not show benefits for patients and in the case of tofacitinib even it was observed that it could cause adverse effects.

And again, the entity again advised against the use of remdesivir and ivermectin, two drugs that have gained popularity since the start of the pandemic but do not have scientific support for these cases.

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Patient assisted by covid-19

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The WHO recommends the use of baricitinib in severely ill patients.

This increases the list of authorized drugs for the treatment of covid-19 to five. In serious or critical cases: corticosteroids, IL-6RB, and baricitinib. And in moderate cases: REGN-VOC and sotrovimab.

After hearing the news, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) asked governments to do what is necessary so that patents are not an obstacle to access to treatment.

What is baricitinib

According to the WHO, baricitinib is a Janus kinase inhibitor drug. It especially serves to reduce inflammation and is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

The research, which included more than 4,000 people, found that this drug in combination with corticosteroids, a variety of hormones used to treat arthritis, can help the patient avoid resorting to mechanical ventilation in the most severe cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

In this case, MSF pointed out that in many countries baricitinib is under patent of the US company Eli Lilly, which sells it at a price close to US$2,000, and that this could affect the use of this drug for the treatment of patients. in countries with fewer resources.

“In countries like Bangladesh or India a generic version of this drug can be obtained for less than US$6, but in many countries generic baricitinib is not available because it is under a patent monopoly with Eli Lilly, a company that has applied for and obtained patents. in many places, including countries hard hit by the pandemic, such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Russia,” the organization added.

For its part, the Eli Lilly laboratory in a communication sent to BBC Mundo, pointed out that: “The new guidelines are positive news for health care providers and patients, since they offer additional clarity on the potential use of baricitinib in hospitalized patients. with covid-19, according to study data.”

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“Lilly is working with hospitals, healthcare professionals and governments to facilitate patient access to baricitinib and continues to explore the drug’s potential use in covid-19 with regulatory agencies”.

“Lilly is actively working with international partners to understand regions with unmet need, as the provision of COVID-19 treatments to low/lower-middle income countries depends on the ability of each country to accept and approve medicines for use by consumers. emergency,” the lab added.

But the WHO also noted in its recommendation that baricitinib “has similar effects to other arthritis drugs called interleukin-6 inhibitors, so when both are available, choosing one based on cost is suggested. the availability and preference of the doctor.

And the body adds that it is not recommended the use of both drugs at the same time.

a biological drug

On the other hand, sotrovimab is a drug that began to be used by the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), among others, to test it in the treatment of patients moderately affected by covid.

According to experts, sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody that is given as a transfusion to transplant recipients, cancer patients, and other high-risk groups.

And according to research done by the WHO and the NHS, if given quickly after symptoms develop, it should help prevent people from getting seriously ill.

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Sotrovimab has been used in the UK in recent months to treat moderate cases of covid-19.

“These new drugs have an important role to play,” Steven Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, told the BBC.

According to Powis, the administration of this drug is focused on patients who have underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or respiratory conditions, and who may be seriously affected by the virus.

What’s more, evidence suggests that the drug should work against the omicron variant.


In Latin America, baricitinib was already authorized for use in the treatment of patients with covid-19 last July in Mexico.

In most of the countries of the region the drug can be obtained for the treatment of arthritis and with the authorization of the WHO it will surely begin to be used in local treatments.

While sotrovimab has already been approved for use in several European countries, in Japan and Saudi Arabia.

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