Thalidomide for the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia: A randomized controlled clinical trial


1 Bamdad Respiratory and Sleep Research Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Sleep Ward, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Hematology Oncology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

4 Department of Epidemiology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 has become a public health concern with a high number of fatalities. Thalidomide can target inflammatory mediators and decrease inflammation in SARS-CoV-2.
Materials and Methods: An open-label, randomized controlled trial was conducted on patients with compatible lung high-resolution computed tomography scan for COVID-19 pneumonia and moderate involvement. Childbearing-age women were excluded. A total of 20 patients in the control group receiving usual treatment were compared with 26 patients in the case group who in addition to the same regimen also received thalidomide. The primary outcome was time for clinical recovery (TTCR) and intensive-care unit (ICU) admission.
Results: From April 25 to August 8, 2020, based on the inclusion criteria, 47 patients were assigned to the study. Patients receiving thalidomide had a mean TTCR of days 5.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7–10.3), as compared with days 5.3 (95% CI, 1.7–8.9) with control (odds ratio 0.01; 95% CI, −1.58–1.59, P = 0.807). The incidence of ICU admission was 27% in the thalidomide group compared with 20% in the control group (odds ratio 3.89; 95% CI, 0.55–27.4, P = 0.425). The mean length of stay in hospital in both groups was 10 days. Progressive improvement in respiratory rate, fever, and O2 saturation during the study was seen in both groups without a significant difference between the thalidomide and control group (P > 0.05).
Conclusion: This study investigated the effects of thalidomide to treat moderate COVID-19 clinical outcomes. The results established that this drug regimen did not add more effect to usual treatment for moderate COVID-19 pneumonia.


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