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The World Health Organization has added two more drugs to the list of recommended treatments for coronavirus, peer-reviewed British medical journal The BMJ reported on Friday.

The new treatment recommendations come at a time when Covid-19 cases, driven by the Omicron variant, are increasing across the world. According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 32 crore people have been infected by the virus so far, of which 55.20 lakh have died.

According to The BMJ, WHO has recommended baricitinib, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, with a combination of corticosteroids to treat severe or critical Covid-19 infections.

The global health body found that baricitinib improved the survival rate among patients and reduced the need of putting them on ventilators. None of the patients on whom this treatment was tried reported an adverse reaction.

Baricitinib is manufactured by the United States pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly. The drug’s generic versions are available in India and Bangladesh. However, patents have been in force in many other countries.

The panel has also recommended sotrovimab, an experimental monoclonal antibody drug, for treating patients with non-severe Covid-19 infections but are at the highest risk of hospitalisation.

Monoclonal antibodies are compounds created in the laboratory. They can imitate the body’s natural defence mechanism.

WHO made the recommendations based on new proof from seven trials involving more than 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe and critical coronavirus infections.

Currently, the health body has approved the use of interleukin-6 receptor blockers and corticosteroids for severe or critical Covid-19 cases.

The French humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières lauded the health body’s new recommendations, Al Jazeera reported.

“For nearly two years, we have helplessly witnessed people dying of Covid-19 amid catastrophic waves of disease,” said Dr Márcio da Fonseca, infectious diseases medical advisor for the Médecins Sans Frontières access campaign.

He added: “The possibilities for providing high-level intensive care are limited, so saving more lives of people with severe and critical infections relies heavily on having access to affordable medicines that we can add to the steroids, oxygen and close supportive care that we already provide in our projects.”

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