Background The spread of a highly pathogenic, novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has emerged as a once-in-a-century pandemic, having already infected over 17 million. Novel therapies are urgently needed. Janus kinase-inhibitors and Type I interferons have emerged as potential antiviral candidates for COVID-19 patients for their proven efficacy against diseases with excessive cytokine release and due to direct antiviral ability against viruses including coronaviruses, respectively. We conducted a systemic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of Janus kinase-inhibitors and Type I interferons and their ability to produce positive patient outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
Methods A search of MEDLINE and MedRxiv was conducted by three investigators from inception until July 30 th 2020, including any study type that compared treatment outcomes of humans treated with JAK-inhibitor or Type I interferon against controls. Inclusion necessitated data with clearly indicated risk estimates or those that permitted their back-calculation. Outcomes were synthesized using RevMan.
Results Of 733 searched studies, we included four randomized and eleven non-randomized trials. Five of the studies were unpublished. Those who received Janus kinase-inhibitor had significantly reduced odds of mortality (OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.03 – 0.39, p<0.001) and ICU admission (OR, 0.05; 95% CI, 0.01 – 0.26, p<0.001), and had significantly increased odds of hospital discharge (OR, 22.76; 95% CI, 10.68 – 48.54, p<0.00001), when compared to standard treatment group. Type I interferon recipients had significantly reduced odds of mortality (OR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.04 – 0.85, p<0.05), and increased odds of discharge bordering significance (OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.00 – 3.59, p=0.05).
Conclusions Janus kinase-inhibitor treatment is significantly associated with positive clinical outcomes in terms of mortality, ICU admission, and discharge. Type I interferon treatment is associated with positive clinical outcomes in regard to mortality and discharge. While these data show promise, additional well-conducted RCTs are needed to further elucidate the relationship between clinical outcomes and Janus kinase-inhibitors and Type I interferons in COVID-19 patients.