Writing in The Lancet, a team at University College London says there is growing evidence that patients with severe COVID-19 may have cytokine storm syndrome. As of March 12, 2020, 125,048 people worldwide had been diagnosed with new coronary pneumonia, with a mortality rate of about 3.7 percent, compared with less than 1 percent for influenza, the researchers said. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop effective treatments such as antiviral drugs and vaccines.
The current treatment of COVID-19 is supportive, while respiratory failure caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the leading cause of death, the researchers said.
Secondary phage cell syndrome is a highly inflammatory syndrome that is not fully understood and develops rapidly, which can lead to multi-organ failure. Key features of the disease include persistent fever, blood cell reduction and high-blood hemoglobinemia, which affects about 50% of patients with lung disease (including ARDS).
The researchers reviewed a multicenter retrospective study of 150 confirmed cases and found a sharp increase in ferritin and leukin-6 in the patients who died, suggesting that the deaths may have been due to excessive inflammation caused by the virus.
The researchers recommend that laboratory tests such as ferritin, platelet counts and red blood cell deposition rate be screened for excessive inflammatory reactions in all patients with severe illness. Treatment is not recommended for regular use of corticosteroid hormones, as they may exacerbate lung damage associated with COVID-19.
Therefore, use existing, approved, and recognized safe therapies to identify and treat excessive inflammation to reduce mortality. Treatment options include steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin and JAK inhibition.