Association between tocilizumab, sarilumab and all-cause mortality at 28 days in hospitalized patients with COVID-19: A network meta-analysis

Administration of either tocilizumab or sarilumab was associated with lower 28-day all-cause mortality compared with usual care or placebo. The association is not dependent on the choice of interleukin-6 receptor antagonist.


Objective To estimate pairwise associations between administration of tocilizumab, sarilumab and usual care or placebo with 28-day mortality, in COVID-19 patients receiving concomitant corticosteroids and non-invasive or mechanical ventilation, based on all available direct and indirect evidence.

Methods Eligible trials randomized hospitalized patients with COVID-19 that compared either interleukin-6 receptor antagonist with usual care or placebo in a recent prospective meta-analysis (27 trials, 10930 patients) or that directly compared tocilizumab with sarilumab. Data were restricted to patients receiving corticosteroids and either non-invasive or invasive ventilation at randomization.

Pairwise associations between tocilizumab, sarilumab and usual care or placebo for all-cause mortality 28 days after randomization were estimated using a frequentist contrast-based network meta-analysis of odds ratios (ORs), implementing multivariate fixed-effects models that assume consistency between the direct and indirect evidence.

Results One trial (REMAP-CAP) was identified that directly compared tocilizumab with sarilumab and supplied results on all-cause mortality at 28-days. This network meta-analysis was based on 898 eligible patients (278 deaths) from REMAP-CAP and 3710 eligible patients from 18 trials (1278 deaths) from the prospective meta-analysis. Summary ORs were similar for tocilizumab [0.82 [0.71-0.95, P=0.008]] and sarilumab [0.80 [0.61-1.04, P=0.09]] compared with usual care or placebo. The summary OR for 28-day mortality comparing tocilizumab with sarilumab was 1.03 [95%CI 0.81-1.32, P=0.80]. The P value for the global test for inconsistency was 0.28.