Coronavirus: Remdesivir has 'little effect' on death risks, says WHO

  • Coronavirus: Remdesivir has 'little effect' on death risks, says WHO

Coronavirus: Remdesivir has 'little effect' on death risks, says WHO

Of the 11,266 adults who were randomised in 405 hospitals across 30 countries, 2,743 people were given Remdesivir and 2,708 were part of control group or usual care.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Solidarity trial has found that Remdesivir, the antiviral drug that's widely prescribed for treating COVID-19, has no substantial effect on overall death rate or mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay.

The trial was created to be adaptive, allowing unpromising drugs to be dropped and others to be added.

In a statement, Gilead said it was "concerned" that the data from the trial had not undergone vigorous review, and that it was unclear whether any "conclusive findings" could be drawn from the results. In the hydroxychloroquine arm, the death rate ratio was 1.19 (104 deaths were reported in the active group of 947 patients as against 84 in the control group of 906); in the lopinavir arm, the death rate ratio was 1 (148 deaths in the active group of 1,399, as against 146 in the control group of 1,372); and in the interferon arm, the death rate ratio was 1.16 (243 deaths in the active group of 2,050; 216 in the control group of 2,050).

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

But Prof Martin Landray, who runs the large trial Recovery in the United Kingdom, said the results of the trial were "important but sobering" - and added that there were already concerns about the cost and accessibility of remdesivir.

"Covid affects millions of people and their families around the world", he added. We need scalable, affordable and equitable treatments.

"The benefits of Veklury have been demonstrated in three randomized, controlled clinical trials, including a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial - the gold standard for evaluating the efficacy and safety of investigational drugs".

Health authorities in many countries have withdrawn approvals for the use of hydroxychloroquine.

Remdesivir has been touted as a potential therapy since the beginning of the pandemic and gained greater attention when it formed part of Donald Trump's cocktail of treatments.

But the World Health Organization trial, published online, gives a damning verdict. However, Gilead Sciences, which makes remdesivir, has begun to study the effect of an inhaled version of the drug. Only an old steroid - dexamethasone - has proven life-saving. In theory, once that inflammation has taken over, an antiviral drug to reduce the amount of virus in the body would be minimally effective, at best. The drug has been pre-qualified by the WHO.

How did recent NIAID data differ from the Solidarity trial? The global team of researchers has submitted its findings to a medical journal.

In comparison, the experts said, a key U.S. study that had influenced the regulatory decision to approve emergency authorisation use had involved 1,062 patients.

However the researchers said it was not possible to say whether the antibody responses induced by the vaccine were sufficient to protect from infection because the trial was not created to assess its efficacy.

Developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, the vaccine has already been approved for an emergency inoculation programme in the country.