Tocilizumab in critically ill COVID-19 patients: An observational study

Muhammad Z. Mushtaq, Saad B.Z. Mahmood, Aysha Almas, Syed Ather Wasti, Syed Ahsan Ali

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Tocilizumab decreases inflammatory response in the cytokine storm which is one of the mechanisms behind the development of ARDS in COVID-19 patients. The objective of our study was to determine response of tocilizumab in patients suffering from COVID-19 by analyzing clinical parameters and inflammatory markers. A single-arm observational retrospective study was conducted from March 15, 2020 to March 15, 2021. Clinical outcomes in terms of mortality, weaning from mechanical ventilator, improvement in laboratory parameters including inflammatory cytokines, and length of hospital stay were documented. Reduction in values of inflammatory markers, and patients discharged home in stable condition were defined as an improvement after tocilizumab administration. A total of 514 patients received tocilizumab, majority of whom were critically sick 333 (64.8%). Out of the total sample 363 (70.6%) patients were discharged home in stable condition. Overall mean length of stay was 11.50 ± 8.4 days. There was significant difference in length of stay of patients who required invasive mechanical ventilation as compared to those who were kept only on supplemental oxygen (p < 0.05). Patients who were discharged home showed significant improvement in inflammatory markers and neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio as compared to those who expired (p < 0.05). A total of 21 (4.1%) patients had positive blood culture while 57 (11.1%) had positive culture of tracheal aspirate. Hence, tocilizumab is found to be a reasonable therapeutic option for worsening COVID-19 pneumonia by decreasing the need for mechanical ventilation. However, it is associated with adverse events including bacterial and fungal infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108384
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Cytokine release syndrome
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tocilizumab


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