Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: WHO study finds remdesivir did not cut hospital stay or mortality

Antiviral drug has been approved as treatment by several countries and was recently administered to US President Donald Trump

The antiviral medication remdesivir had little or no effect on Covid-19 patients' length of hospital stay or chances of survival, a clinical trial by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found.

The drug produced by Gilead Sciences was among the first to be used as a treatment for Covid-19 and was recently administered to US President Donald Trump after he contracted the coronavirus.

The results are from WHO's "Solidarity" trial, which evaluated the effects of four potential drug regimens – remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon – in 11,266 adult patients across more than 30 countries.

A health worker hold up an ampioule of the antiviral drug Remdesivir at the Institute of Infectology of Kenezy Gyula Teaching Hospital in Debrecen, Hungary. MTI via AP
A health worker hold up an ampioule of the antiviral drug Remdesivir at the Institute of Infectology of Kenezy Gyula Teaching Hospital in Debrecen, Hungary. MTI via AP

The study found the regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the length of the in-hospital course among patients hospitalised with Covid-19, the WHO said on Thursday.

The results of the trial are yet to be reviewed and were uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv.

Earlier this month, data from a US study of remdesivir by Gilead showed the treatment cut Covid-19 recovery time by five days compared with patients who got a placebo in a trial comprising 1,062 patients.

"The emerging [WHO] data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomised, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir," Gilead told Reuters. "We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design."

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday that during the study, hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after they proved ineffective, but other trials continued in more than 500 hospitals and 30 countries.

"We're looking at what's next. We're looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we're looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months," Ms Swaminathan said.

Remdesivir received emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration on May 1, and has since been authorised for use in several countries.

Updated: October 16, 2020 03:40 PM

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