Key summary of German national treatment guidance for hospitalized COVID-19 patients : Key pharmacologic recommendations from a national German living guideline using an Evidence to Decision Framework (last updated 17.05.2021)

Infection. 2022 Feb;50(1):93-106. doi: 10.1007/s15010-021-01645-2. Epub 2021 Jul 6.


Purpose: This executive summary of a national living guideline aims to provide rapid evidence based recommendations on the role of drug interventions in the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Methods: The guideline makes use of a systematic assessment and decision process using an evidence to decision framework (GRADE) as recommended standard WHO (2021). Recommendations are consented by an interdisciplinary panel. Evidence analysis and interpretation is supported by the CEOsys project providing extensive literature searches and living (meta-) analyses. For this executive summary, selected key recommendations on drug therapy are presented including the quality of the evidence and rationale for the level of recommendation.

Results: The guideline contains 11 key recommendations for COVID-19 drug therapy, eight of which are based on systematic review and/or meta-analysis, while three recommendations represent consensus expert opinion. Based on current evidence, the panel makes strong recommendations for corticosteroids (WHO scale 5-9) and prophylactic anticoagulation (all hospitalized patients with COVID-19) as standard of care. Intensified anticoagulation may be considered for patients with additional risk factors for venous thromboembolisms (VTE) and a low bleeding risk. The IL-6 antagonist tocilizumab may be added in case of high supplemental oxygen requirement and progressive disease (WHO scale 5-6). Treatment with nMABs may be considered for selected inpatients with an early SARS-CoV-2 infection that are not hospitalized for COVID-19. Convalescent plasma, azithromycin, ivermectin or vitamin D3 should not be used in COVID-19 routine care.

Conclusion: For COVID-19 drug therapy, there are several options that are sufficiently supported by evidence. The living guidance will be updated as new evidence emerges.

Keywords: COVID-19; Living guideline; Living meta-analysis; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Serotherapy
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • SARS-CoV-2