Anakinra for patients with COVID-19: a meta-analysis of non-randomized cohort studies

Eur J Intern Med. 2021 Feb 5;S0953-6205(21)00016-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2021.01.016. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Severe COVID-19 cases have a detrimental hyper-inflammatory host response and different cytokine-blocking biologic agents were explored to improve outcomes. Anakinra blocks the activity of both IL-1α and IL‑1β and is approved for different autoinflammatory disorders, but it is used off-label for conditions characterized by an excess of cytokine production. Several studies on anakinra in COVID-19 patients reported positive effects. We performed a meta-analysis of all published evidence on the use of anakinra in COVID19 to investigate its effect on survival and need for mechanical ventilation.

Methods: We searched for any study performed on adult patients with acute hypoxemic failure related to 2019-nCoV infection, receiving anakinra versus any comparator. Primary endpoint was mortality at the longest available follow-up. Adverse effects, need for mechanical ventilation and discharge at home with no limitations were also analysed.

Results: Four observational studies involving 184 patients were included. Overall mortality of patients treated with anakinra was significantly lower than mortality in the control group (95% CI 0.14-0.48, p<0.0001). Moreover, patients treated with anakinra had a significantly lower risk of need for mechanical ventilation than controls (95% CI 0.250.74, p=0.002). No difference in adverse events and discharge at home with no limitations was observed. The Trial Sequential Analysis z-cumulative line reached the monitoring boundary for benefit and the required sample size.

Conclusions: Administration of anakinra in COVID-19 patients was safe and might be associated with reductions in both mortality and need for mechanical ventilation. Randomized clinical trials are warranted to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Anakinra; COVID-19; Meta-analysis; Mortality; SARS-CoV-2.