Objective: To report the clinical experience with anakinra in preventing mechanical ventilation in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), symptoms of cytokine storm syndrome, and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Methods: To be included in this retrospective case series, patients must have had severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), fever, ferritin levels >1,000 ng/ml with 1 additional laboratory marker of hyperinflammation, and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure was defined as requiring 15 liters of supplemental oxygen via a nonrebreather mask combined with 6-liter nasal cannula or use of ≥95% oxygen by high-flow nasal cannula. We excluded patients in whom there was suspicion of bacterial infection or who were receiving immunosuppressants. Subcutaneous anakinra was initiated at 100 mg every 6 hours and gradually tapered off completely. The primary outcome was the prevention of mechanical ventilation.
Results: Of the 14 patients who met the criteria, 11 patients received anakinra for a maximum of 19 days. Seven of the patients who started anakinra treatment ≤36 hours after onset of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure did not require mechanical ventilation, and all were discharged home. Four patients who started anakinra ≥4 days after onset of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure required mechanical ventilation. Of those, 3 patients were extubated (2 discharged home and 1 remained hospitalized), and 1 died. All 3 patients who met the criteria but did not receive anakinra required mechanical ventilation. Two patients were extubated (1 discharged home and 1 remained hospitalized), and 1 remained on mechanical ventilation.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that anakinra could be beneficial in treating COVID-19 patients with evidence of cytokine storm syndrome when initiated early after onset of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Our patient selection and treatment approach should be considered for investigation in a clinical trial to determine the safety and efficacy of anakinra in treating patients with COVID-19 and symptoms of cytokine storm syndrome.
© 2020, American College of Rheumatology.