The Efficacy and Safety of Janus Kinase Inhibitors for Patients With COVID-19: A Living Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Jan 27:8:800492. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.800492. eCollection 2021.


Background: Cytokine storm observed in patients with severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) contributes to poor clinical outcomes and increased mortality. Janus kinases (JAKs) are important mediators in the cytokine storm. Therefore, we conduct a living systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature investigating efficacy and safety of JAK inhibitors for patients with COVID-19.

Methods: Databases were searched up to December 1, 2021 for interventional and observational studies comparing JAK inhibitor treatment with concurrent control in patients with COVID-19. Efficacy and safety outcomes were evaluated by pooled risk ratio (RR).

Results: Of 3,170 records retrieved, 15 studies were eligible and 13 were evaluated in the meta-analysis (n = 3,977). Based on data from three randomized controlled trials (RCTs), baricitinib treatment significantly decreased mortality by day 28 in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 (RR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.51-0.80) without increasing the incidence of adverse outcomes. In subgroup analysis, patients who required supplemental oxygen (RR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.41-0.95) or high-flow oxygen/non-invasive ventilation (RR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.42-0.85) at baseline benefited most. Pooled analysis of all eligible studies for JAK inhibitors (baricitinib, ruxolitinib, tofacitinib, and nezulcitinib) demonstrated a significant decrease in mortality (RR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.49-0.78) with no increase in the risk of adverse events.

Conclusion: Baricitinib probably decreases mortality in hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19, especially for patients who required supplemental oxygen or high-flow oxygen/non-invasive ventilation at baseline. The efficacy and safety of other JAK inhibitors, such as ruxolitinib, tofacitinib, and nezulcitinib, await more evidence.

Systematic review registration:, identifier: CRD42021261414.

Keywords: COVID-19; Janus kinase inhibitors; SARS-CoV-2; baricitinib; meta-analysis; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review