This exciting new pre-print from the RECOVERY trial team shares the findings from the baricitinib arm of the trial. Many CIRG members, led by local PI Dr Oliver Koch, have been part of the team recruiting to the RECOVERY trial over the last two years at the Edinburgh site. This innovative study, conducted across the U.K., has helped prove (and disprove) the effectiveness of new COVID-19 therapies to reduce mortality in patients hostpitalised with COVID-19.

You can read the abstract below, and access the full pre-print here. Note that as this is a pre-print, it has not yet been peer-reviewed.


Background: We evaluated the use of baricitinib, a Janus kinase (JAK) 1/2 inhibitor, for the treatment of patients admitted to hospital because of COVID-19. Methods: This randomised, controlled, open-label platform trial (Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy [RECOVERY]), is assessing multiple possible treatments in patients hospitalised for COVID-19. Eligible and consenting patients were randomly allocated (1:1) to either usual standard of care alone (usual care group) or usual care plus baricitinib 4 mg once daily by mouth for 10 days or until discharge if sooner (baricitinib group). The primary outcome was 28-day mortality assessed in the intention-to-treat population. A meta-analysis was conducted that included the results from the RECOVERY trial and all previous randomised controlled trials of baricitinib or other JAK inhibitor in patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Findings: Between 2 February 2021 and 29 December 2021, 8156 patients were randomly allocated to receive usual care plus baricitinib versus usual care alone. At randomisation, 95% of patients were receiving corticosteroids and 23% receiving tocilizumab (with planned use within the next 24 hours recorded for a further 9%). Overall, 513 (12%) of 4148 patients allocated to baricitinib versus 546 (14%) of 4008 patients allocated to usual care died within 28 days (age-adjusted rate ratio 0.87; 95% CI 0.77-0.98; p=0.026). This 13% proportional reduction in mortality was somewhat smaller than that seen in a meta-analysis of 8 previous trials of a JAK inhibitor (involving 3732 patients and 425 deaths) in which allocation to a JAK inhibitor was associated with a 43% proportional reduction in mortality (rate ratio 0.57; 95% CI 0.45-0.72). Including the results from RECOVERY into an updated meta-analysis of all 9 completed trials (involving 11,888 randomised patients and 1484 deaths) allocation to baricitinib or other JAK inhibitor was associated with a 20% proportional reduction in mortality (rate ratio 0.80; 95% CI 0.71-0.89; p<0.001). In RECOVERY, there was no significant excess in death or infection due to non-COVID-19 causes and no excess of thrombosis, or other safety outcomes. Interpretation: In patients hospitalised for COVID-19, baricitinib significantly reduced the risk of death but the size of benefit was somewhat smaller than that suggested by previous trials. The total randomised evidence to date suggests that JAK inhibitors (chiefly baricitinib) reduce mortality in patients hospitalised for COVID-19 by about one-fifth.