Ruxolitinib in treatment of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): A multicenter, single-blind, randomized controlled trial

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 Jul;146(1):137-146.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.05.019. Epub 2020 May 26.


Background: Accumulating evidence proposed Janus-associated kinase (JAK) inhibitors as therapeutic targets warranting rapid investigation.

Objective: This study evaluated the efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2 inhibitor, for coronavirus disease 2019.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, multicenter, single-blind, randomized controlled phase II trial involving patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019.

Results: Forty-three patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive ruxolitinib plus standard-of-care treatment (22 patients) or placebo based on standard-of-care treatment (21 patients). After exclusion of 2 patients (1 ineligible, 1 consent withdrawn) from the ruxolitinib group, 20 patients in the intervention group and 21 patients in the control group were included in the study. Treatment with ruxolitinib plus standard-of-care was not associated with significantly accelerated clinical improvement in severe patients with coronavirus disease 2019, although ruxolitinib recipients had a numerically faster clinical improvement. Eighteen (90%) patients from the ruxolitinib group showed computed tomography improvement at day 14 compared with 13 (61.9%) patients from the control group (P = .0495). Three patients in the control group died of respiratory failure, with 14.3% overall mortality at day 28; no patients died in the ruxolitinib group. Ruxolitinib was well tolerated with low toxicities and no new safety signals. Levels of 7 cytokines were significantly decreased in the ruxolitinib group in comparison to the control group.

Conclusions: Although no statistical difference was observed, ruxolitinib recipients had a numerically faster clinical improvement. Significant chest computed tomography improvement, a faster recovery from lymphopenia, and favorable side-effect profile in the ruxolitinib group were encouraging and informative to future trials to test efficacy of ruxolitinib in a larger population.

Keywords: COVID-19; Ruxolitinib; cytokine storm; efficacy; randomized controlled trial; safety.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitriles
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Pyrimidines
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors
  • Nitriles
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyrimidines
  • ruxolitinib