Remdesivir has little effect on COVID-19 survival, WHO says

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The antiviral drug remdesivir — which President Trump received during his recent bout with the coronavirus — has no significant effect on patients’ chances of survival, according to a report about a clinical trial by the World Health Organization.

Results from the WHO’s Solidarity trial, which studied remdesivir and three other potential drug regimens, found that none of them “substantially affected mortality” or reduced the need for a ventilator, reported the Financial Times, which obtained a copy of the report.

The study of 11,266 hospitalized patients included hydroxychloroquine and an anti-HIV combination drug of lopinavir/ritonavir — which were stopped in June after they proved ineffective — and interferon.

“These remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little effect on in-hospital mortality,” the study found, according to the Financial Times.

Remdesivir was developed by US drugmaker Gilead Sciences, initially as a potential medicine to treat Ebola.

It received partial approval for use after a trial by the US National Institutes of Health in April showed it cut the time to recover from the coronavirus from 15 days to 11.

In July, the company released additional data suggesting the treatment may reduce the likelihood of death, but that finding had not been confirmed in a randomized controlled trial, the news outlet reported.

“We are aware that initial data from the World Health Organization’s Solidarity trial has been made public prior to publication in a peer-reviewed journal,” Gilead said in response to a request for comment.

“The emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies validating the clinical benefit of [remdesivir].”

After the publication of the Financial Times piece, the WHO said in a statement that the trial had “generated conclusive evidence” on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

“The progress achieved by the Solidarity therapeutics trial shows that large international trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics,” it said.