World Health Organization defends conclusion that remdesivir is ineffective against COVID-19

Big global study finds remdesivir doesn't help COVID-19 patients

"It (the trail) found that all 4 treatments evaluated (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and interferon) had little or no effect on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients", WHO's statement, published on the website, read.

WHO said in a statement: "The progress achieved by the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial shows that large worldwide trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics".

Remdesivir, which U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, failed to reduce mortality in a global trial sponsored by the agency, called Solidarity. The National Institutes of Health also includes seven doctors paid by the drug's producer on its coronavirus panel. The trial also tested treating patients with hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, interferon, or lopinavir-plus-interferon.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, said, "Personal experiences are valuable".

Despite uncertainties about its effectiveness, remdesivir was the first drug approved by the European Union to treat severe cases of COVID-19.

Other uses of the drugs, for example, in treatment of patients in the community or for prevention, would have to be examined using different trials, the World Health Organization said.

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.

"We are concerned that the data from this open-label global trial have not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design", the company said.

The results of the solidarity trial conducted on 11,266 hospitalised patients in 30 countries found that remdesivir and three other repurposed drugs - hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon - had little or no effect on 28-day mortality.

The WHO's results appear to contradict a previous study from earlier this month, conducted by Gilead, which concluded that treatment with remdesivir cut Covid recovery time by five days compared to patients given a placebo.

"We're looking at what's next".

Gilead received an initial, redacted manuscript in late September and still hasn't received the data necessary to validate Solidarity's results, a spokesman said in an email.

Differences in patients who participated in the trial at hundreds of clinical sites may undermine the quality of the data, said Prof Peter Galle, who oversees infectiology at Germany's Mainz university hospital.

The trial results were disclosed a week after the EU's executive commission announced its largest contract to date with Gilead for the supply of 500,000 courses of the antiviral drug at a price of 2,070 euro per treatment, which Gilead said was the standard for wealthy nations.

"Covid affects millions of people and their families around the world", he added.

The big story is the finding that remdesivir produces no meaningful impact on survival, Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who led other coronavirus treatment research, said in a statement. We need scalable, affordable and equitable treatments.



Other news