Unitaid statement on WHO recommendations for tocilizumab and sarilumab

July 7th, 2021

Published: July 7th, 2021

Geneva, 7 July 2021 Unitaid welcomes new recommendations released by the World Health Organisation for the clinical care package for patients with severe or critical COVID-19, adding two medicines (tocilizumab and sarilumab). Having more treatment options is clearly of huge benefit, especially given the current concerning epidemiological situation around the world.

Equitable access arrangements for medicines to treat patients with advanced COVID-19, and those for earlier stages of the disease, are key to fighting the pandemic. Access to COVID-19 (ACT) Accelerator partners are ready to support effective new therapeutic products for COVID-19, and we would welcome further details from Roche and Sanofi, respectively, on their plans for broad, sustainable access to these medicines to treat COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, these newly recommended medicines need to be used together with oxygen and corticosteroids, underlining the urgent need to increase access to medical oxygen and ensure adequate supplies of corticosteroids. The ACT-A Therapeutics pillar is already working to address this, with an advance purchase in 2020 of nearly 3 million doses of dexamethasone, and more recently the coordination of the COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce.

About Unitaid

Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Its work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management. Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID-19 (ACT) Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization.