Turkish Thoracic Journal
Original Article

Efficacy of High-Dose Nebulized Interferon α 2b in Severe COVID-19 Pneumonia


Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Al Kuwait Hospital, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Department of Medical, Al Kuwait Hospital, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Department of Radiology, Al Kuwait Hospital, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Turk Thorac J 2021; 22: 199-204
DOI: 10.5152/TurkThoracJ.2021.20255
Read: 354 Downloads: 21 Published: 03 June 2021

OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic is progressing rapidly, sending the world into a great panic. Healthcare professionals have responded by embarking on a concerted search for therapies to cure and prevent COVID-19. Recently, interferon (IFN) has emerged as a potential therapy as it is associated with reducing lung inflammation and suppressing viral replication. This research paper assessed the efficacy of high-dose nebulized IFN α 2b in severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

METHODS: This is a retrospective study. It commenced on April 9 and ended on June 17, 2020. Researchers selected participants from hospitalized patients aged 18 years and above who were diagnosed with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Other inclusion criteria were bilateral pneumonia on lung or chest X-ray scan and severe respiratory distress. SMART-COP, which is a risk stratification scoring tool, and radiologic severity index (RSI) were used to assess pneumonia severity. Patients in the treatment cohort received nebulized IFN α 2b at a dose of 10 million IU every 12 hours for 5 days, in addition to standard treatment. Patients in the control cohort received standard treatment only.

RESULTS: Seventy-three patients met the inclusion criteria; 37 were included in the treatment cohort and 36 in the control cohort. Mechanical ventilation was needed in 14 of 36 (38.9%) patients in the control cohort, compared with 6 of 37 (27.4%) patients in the treatment cohort (HR 5.62 [95% CI 1.81-17.48]; P = .003). For pneumonia severity, there was a hazard ratio (HR) of 3.72 [95% CI 1.74- 7.98]; P = ·.01. After 5 days of treatment, chest X-rays indicated significant beneficial changes in the treatment group (HR 2.24 [CI 1.05-
4.79]; P = .036). Multivariate analysis revealed that pneumonia severity and RSI remained higher in the control group. The HR was 3.44 [95% CI 1.49-7.94]; P = .004 and 2.26 [95% CI 0.99-5.16]; P = .05, respectively. There was an increase in liver aminotransferases in 5 (14%) participants in the control cohort and 3 (8%) participants in the treatment cohort.

CONCLUSION: High-dose nebulized IFN α 2b has potential efficacy in mitigating severe COVID-19 pneumonia. This study established that administering high-dose nebulized IFN α 2b significantly reduces pneumonia severity in COVID-19 patients. We also found a strong relationship between using nebulized IFN α 2b and reduced need for mechanical ventilation among patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. However, a well-designed control trial is needed to confirm the drug's efficacy in reducing the COVID-19 pneumonia severity.

Cite this article as: Chkhis A, Abdulrazzaq N, Mokhtar S, Al Jasmi A. Efficacy of high-dose nebulized interferon α 2b in severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Turk Thorac J. 2021; 22(3): 199-204.

EISSN 2149-2530