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WHO Recommends Two New COVID Drugs

Fact-checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 11, 2023

WHO Recommends Two New COVID Drugs

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently recommended two COVID drugs, baricitinib and satrovimab. They believe these two drugs for COVID-19 provide more options in treating the infection. Learn more about this development here. 

WHO Recommends Baricitinib and Satrovimab as COVID Drugs

In a report released on January 14, WHO said they recommend baricitinib and satrovimab as COVID drugs. 

They based this decision on 7 trials involving at least 4,000 patients who contracted non-severe, severe, and critical COVID-19 infections

Baricitinib, An Overview

One of the two COVID drugs recommended by the organization is baricitinib, a type of Janus kinase inhibitor. Reports say this orally bioavailable drug has anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, and immunomodulating properties². 

Note that this medicine is not newly formulated. Doctors also prescribe it to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a common inflammatory disease³. 

How Does It Help Treat COVID-19?

According to WHO, baricitinib suppresses the immune system¹, thereby helping inhibit cytokine storm, which many experts believe results in an excessive inflammatory reaction in COVID-19 patients. The anti-inflammatory property of baricitinib might also help with this⁴. 

Which Patients Can Benefit from Baricitinib?

Experts recommend baricitinib to patients with severe or critical COVID-19. They say it not only increases the survival rate but also reduces the need for ventilation. They added that they observed no increase in adverse reactions³. 

Can We Use Other Janus Kinase Inhibitors? 

Currently, the WHO does not recommend other Janus kinase inhibitors. They also strongly discourage the use of two other Janus kinase inhibitors, tofacitinib and ruxolitinib, since small studies do not show any benefit. Studies also associate tofacitinib with increased adverse effects³. 

Satrovimab, An Overview

One of the COVID drugs WHO recommended is satrovimab. It is a monoclonal antibody drug, a type of drug engineered to stimulate the body’s immune system. Satrovimab is an alternative to casirivimab-imdevimab, another monoclonal antibody drug the WHO recommended back in September 2021. 

How Does It Help Treat COVID-19?

Reports say satrovimab helps neutralize SARS-CoV-2 as well as other subviruses, including SARS-CoV-1, the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)⁵. 

Which Patients Can Benefit From Satrovimab?

The WHO recommends satrovimab to COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate conditions who are at risk of hospitalization. That means senior citizens and those with comorbidities, like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity can benefit from this drug. 

The Next Steps

As of now, WHO is in discussion with drug manufacturers to ensure that these COVID drugs, baricitinib and satrovimab, will be made available to people across the globe at an affordable price. They understand that unless we have adequate global supply and reasonable pricing, only people from rich countries can benefit from COVID drugs. 

Available COVID Drugs in the Philippines

As of this writing, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has issued Emergency Use Authorization for two drugs: Molnupiravir and Casirivimab + Imdevimab⁶. 

The Lung Center of the Philippines has participated in the Molnupiravir trial, and now, doctors can prescribe these pills to patients at risk of developing severe infections. The FDA also approved Casirivimab + Imdevimab but administer it via infusion or injection. 

Besides these, the FDA also approved the use of Bexovid, the generic version of Pfizer’s Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral⁷. 

Key Takeaways

The World Health Organization recommends two COVID drugs, baricitinib and satrovimab.

Baricitinib is a Janus kinase inhibitor that helps treat severe and critical COVID-19 by suppressing the immune system.

Satrovimab is a monoclonal antibody drug that helps neutralize the COVID-19 virus. The organization is currently discussing the global supply and cost of these drugs with the manufacturers. 

As of this writing, none of these recommended drugs are approved in the Philippines, The FDA only gave its approval to Molnupiravir, Casirivimab + Imdevimab, and Bexovid. 

Learn more about Coronavirus here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Fact-checked by

Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 11, 2023

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