COVID-19 can turn out to be a very dangerous disease, especially if you have underlying health issues. It’s so dangerous that it can even cause your own immune system to become your worst enemy. Also known as the ‘cytokine storm’, it’s an overwhelming immune response that makes the body to fight against itself.
Surprisingly or not, at least for a part of the people who are infected with the virus, calming the storm can provide the key to their survival.
Actemra could be the answer
Doctors from China and Italy understood the telltale signs of a body that’s under cytokine shock: a racing heart, fever, and plummeting blood pressure. They had been treating patients with the drug tocilizumab. This drug is marketed as Actemra, which blocks a cytokine called interleukin-6.
Preliminary trials and studies have shown that Actemra lowers the risks of high levels of IL-6 portend respiratory failure and death.
Some other drugs that quell IL-6 activity have proven promising results, as has Kineret, a drug that slows down a different cytokine called IL-1.
How ‘Cytokine Storm’ works
When immune cells first meet a pathogen, they release cytokines molecules to bring even more cells to the fight. After the danger recedes, the immune system usually turns off. But occasionally it just goes on without slowing down, and prove fatal. Kidneys and lungs get shut down, and this can happen even on young people and children.
As the daily number of COVID-19 infections started to slow down a lot in Europe, the USA is still struggling in the fight against the pandemic. But the current epicenter is currently in South America, with Brazil as the most affected country. As of June, Brazil has the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world besides the United States. Brazil has over 800,000, while the US has over 2 million.