Doctors warned today that inflammation is causing the severe effects of Covid-19 disease in patients, and said reducing those effects may be key to helping people get better.
Teams across the US are testing a variety of immune-modulating drugs often prescribed for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, Dr. Vincent Marconi of the Emory University School of Medicine told a briefing organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Marconi described more than a dozen drugs that are being tried out in severely ill Covid-19 patients. Various drugs attack inflammation from different angles and might tamp down the so-called cytokine storm that appears to be causing the worst damage in advanced patients, Marconi said.
They include sarilumab, sold under the brand name Kevzara, to treat rheumatoid arthritis; adalimumab, or Humira, also a rheumatoid arthritis drug; siltuximab, or Sylvant, used to treat cancer; and others.
The stages of symptom severity: Marconi said a three-stage process takes patients from mild disease to extreme symptoms that affect the whole body, and said inflammation underlies the most serious stage.
Many people infected with Covid-19 may not have any symptoms, and most have mild symptoms. Marconi said the mild stage has common symptoms, including a dry cough, fever and a headache.
“The vast majority of individuals will recover at this point and will not progress to the pulmonary phase,” he said. That second phase is marked by lung inflammation and trouble breathing.
After that, patients can get worse quickly. That’s when doctors see symptoms of shock, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and the “terrible” clotting problems that cause organ damage, blockages and strokes.