The Cytokine Storm in COVID-19 and Promising Treatment Options


  • Taylor Hornback


COVID-19 continues to be a worldwide health issue or pandemic since November 2019 causing acute respiratory failure and multi system organ failure in many individuals. One of the main contributors to acute respiratory failure and multi organ failure, is "The Cytokine Storm" which occurs in 20-30% of hospitalized individuals approximately seven days after a positive COVID-19 test. This cytokine storm is made of proinflammatory cytokines which are protein substances secreted by the body's immune system cells. The cytokines wreak havoc among many organ systems, and they are ultimately reported as the main cause of death in patients with COVID-19. When these cytokines are released, alterations in the body and specifically the lungs occur such as fibrinous exudates, inflammatory infiltrates, alveolar injury, pulmonary edema, and pulmonary embolisms in severe cases. My research findings have shown some promise in new drugs such as monoclonal antibodies, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), TNF blocker, antimalarials, many more immunosuppressant drugs, and even plasmapheresis via an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The ultimate goal of care is to understand the cytokine storm and halt the excessive cytokine release. Many patients who have died due to COVID-19 were not treated in a timely manner with the appropriate treatment. The key to survival could be early detection and intervention to counteract the systemic inflammatory response and decrease the release of cytokines.