Association between tocilizumab treatment and clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Aging (Albany NY). 2022 Jan 17;14(2):557-571. doi: 10.18632/aging.203834. Epub 2022 Jan 17.


To explore and summarize the association between treatment with tocilizumab and clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis (10 RCTs including 3378 patients in the tocilizumab group and 3142 patients in the control group). We systematically searched PubMed and MedRxiv for all RCTs as of June 1, 2021, to assess the benefits and harms of tocilizumab to treat patients with COVID-19. All analyses were carried out using RevMan version 5.4.1. There were nine RCTs published in peer-reviewed journals and one RCTs published as a preprint. The summary RR for all-cause mortality with tocilizumab was 0.89 (95% CI= 0.82-0.96, P= 0.003). There was no significant between-trial heterogeneity (I2= 28%, P= 0.19). However, all peer-reviewed RCTs showed no significant associations between treatment with tocilizumab and reductions in all-cause mortality. We notably found that tocilizumab significantly reduced the rate of intubation or death in patients with COVID-19 with 3 RCTs. Across the 8 RCTs, the summary RR for discharge with tocilizumab was 1.10 (95% CI= 1.03-1.16, P< 0.00001). There was no significant association of tocilizumab with harm on other patient-relevant clinical outcomes, including increasing secondary infection risk, patients of adverse events, or patients of serious adverse events. Tocilizumab significantly increased the rate of hospital discharges in COVID-19 patients. Still, it did not decrease all-cause mortality or increase the risk of secondary infections, patients of adverse events, or patients for serious adverse events. Evidence that tocilizumab affects clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19 requires further proof.

Keywords: COVID-19; efficacy; meta-analysis; randomized controlled trial; tocilizumab.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19 / mortality
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Interleukin-6
  • tocilizumab