Tocilizumab as a Therapeutic Agent for Critically Ill Patients Infected with SARS-CoV-2


Background: Tocilizumab is an IL-6 receptor antagonist with the ability to suppress the cytokine storm in critically ill patients infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: We evaluated patients treated with tocilizumab for a SARS-CoV-2 infection who were admitted between 3/13/20 and 4/16/20. This was a multi-center study with data collected by chart review both retrospectively and concurrently. Parameters evaluated included age, sex, race, use of mechanical ventilation (MV), usage of steroids and vasopressors, inflammatory markers, and comorbidities. Early dosing was defined as a tocilizumab dose administered prior to or within one (1) day of intubation. Late dosing was defined as a dose administered greater than one (1) day after intubation. In the absence of mechanical ventilation, the timing of the dose was related to the patient’s date of admission only.

Results: We evaluated 145 patients. The average age was 58.1 years, 64% were male, 68.3% had comorbidities, and 60% received steroid therapy. Disposition of patients was 48.3% discharged and 29.3% expired, of which 43.9% were African American. Mechanical ventilation was required in 55.9%, of which 34.5% expired. Avoidance of MV (p value = 0.002) and increased survival (p value < 0.001) was statistically associated with early dosing.

Conclusions: Tocilizumab therapy was effective at decreasing mortality and should be instituted early in the management of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Competing Interest Statement

The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement

No external funding was received

Author Declarations

I confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.


The details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:

Western IRB considered this an exempt project

All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.


Data Availability

Upon request, we will make a de-identified dataset available

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