Impact of low dose tocilizumab on mortality rate in patients with COVID-19 related pneumonia

Ruggero Capra, Nicola De Rossi, Flavia Mattioli, Giuseppe Romanelli, Cristina Scarpazza, Maria Pia Sormani, Stefania Cossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pneumonia with respiratory failure represents the main cause of death in COVID-19, where hyper inflammation plays an important role in lung damage. This study aims to evaluate if tocilizumab, an anti-soluble IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, reduces patients’ mortality. Methods: 85 consecutive patients admitted to the Montichiari Hospital (Italy) with COVID-19 related pneumonia and respiratory failure, not needing mechanical ventilation, were included if satisfying at least one among: respiratory rate ≥ 30 breaths/min, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation ≤ 93% or PaO2/FiO2<=300 mmHg. Patients admitted before March 13th (n=23) were prescribed the standard therapy (hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and ritonavir) and were considered controls. On March 13th tocilizumab was available and patients admitted thereafter (n=62) received tocilizumab once within 4 days from admission, plus the standard care. Results: Patients receiving tocilizumab showed significantly greater survival rate as compared to control patients (hazard ratio for death, 0.035; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.004 to 0.347; p = 0.004), adjusting for baseline clinical characteristics. Two out of 62 patients of the tocilizumab group and 11 out of 23 in the control group died. 92% and 42.1% of the discharged patients in the tocilizumab and control group respectively, recovered. The respiratory function resulted improved in 64.8% of the observations in tocilizumab patients who were still hospitalized, whereas 100% of controls worsened and needed mechanical ventilation. No infections were reported. Conclusions: Tocilizumab results to have a positive impact if used early during Covid-19 pneumonia with severe respiratory syndrome in terms of increased survival and favorable clinical course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Retrospective study
  • SARS-cov-2
  • Tocilizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of low dose tocilizumab on mortality rate in patients with COVID-19 related pneumonia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this