Q. Consider the following statements regarding Tocilizumab It is used to treat the cytokine storm condition in the body. WHO approved the use of Tocilizumab for COVID-19 treatment. Which of the above statements is/are correct?

[A] 1 only

[B] 2 only

[C] Both 1 and 2

[D] Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C
  • Recently, The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the use of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers — tocilizumab and sarilumab — as part of COVID-19 management protocol. 
  • IL-6 is an inflammatory marker that is responsible for a cytokine storm in the body, mostly in the second phase of COVID-19 infection.  
  • In other words, when the immune system mounts a fight against SARS-CoV-2, at times, it starts attacking the body’s other systems. This is known as inflammation. The inflammation is followed by a drop in oxygen saturation levels (hypoxia) and other complications. 
  • An increase in IL-6 levels may lead to a progression of the disease towards a severe form. 
  • The WHO gave this recommendation on the basis of meta-analysis of 27 clinical trials for this drug conducted on 10,000 patients.   
  • Tocilizumab already forms a part of the Indian government’s COVID-19 treatment protocol, though as an off-label drug. As far as Indian protocol is concerned, the government says the patient must be severely ill, with ICU admission for 24-48 hours, to be prescribed this drug 
  • However,  the Tocilizumab has extremely high price and poor availability. 

Source: Down To Earth