Pfizer’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Helps COVID-19 Patients

written by / July 5, 2021
Pfizer’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Helps COVID-19 Patients

The results of a recent study could reveal why, unlike those with other autoimmune diseases, RA patients are not at a higher risk of developing COVID-19. 

The STOP-COVID study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the effects of a Pfizer drug used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and ulcerative colitis called Xeljanz on the clinical outcomes of 289 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized with respiratory distress. The results were shockingly positive. The study found that Xeljanz (tofacitinib), a medicine that belongs to the group of the so-called JAK inhibitors, improves a patient’s chances of surviving COVID-19. 

Specifically, patients who took the drug had an 18% incidence of death, which seems a lot better than the 29% of those patients who didn’t!

Where did this idea come from? Well, scientists know that JAK inhibitors block some of the cytokinins responsible for the deadly COVID-19 cytokine storm

These results are encouraging because, in a separate trial, other JAK inhibitors like Incyte and Jakafi (Novartis) weren’t able to reduce death among patients infected with COVID-19 successfully.

Meanwhile, researchers are also evaluating the use of other RA drugs like Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and Tocilizumab (Actemra) to fight COVID-19. 

The results from these studies are still somewhat controversial.

RA is a lifelong, debilitating condition even without the added coronavirus-induced health complications. So regularly taking an RA treatment might spare you from clinically severe outcomes from both RA and COVID-19.  

Other non-medical ways to cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis include lifestyle adjustments, like opting for a memory foam mattress to relieve pressure points or investing in a quality adjustable bed.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”