Antiviral drug remdesivir proves ineffective in treating Covid-19, WHO study finds

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Topline

Antiviral drug remdesivir has had little or no effect on treating hospital patients with Covid-19, according to a study that has not yet been peer reviewed, but has been coordinated by the World Health Organization and released Thursday, casting doubt on one of the few promising treatments for the coronavirus.

Highlights

Considering this to be the “world’s largest randomized controlled trial of Covid-19 therapy”, the six-month study of four drugs – remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir / ritonavir and interferon – was found to be ” not very promising ”.

“The main results of mortality, initiation of ventilation and length of hospital stay were clearly not reduced by any drug in the study,” the study reads.

More than 11,000 adults in 30 countries and 405 hospitals were studied to arrive at these results.

Treatment regimens involving hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, have already been shown to be ineffective, but remdesivir appears to be one of the few therapies to be effective in combating symptoms of Covid-19.

The WHO findings come barely a week after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine who found that remdesivir shortened the recovery time of adults hospitalized with Covid-19.

President Trump, who contracted Covid-19 and spent time at Walter Reed Hospital due to symptoms, was given remdesivir as part of his treatment.

Key context

Remdesivir is the only specific drug with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. A Covid-19 vaccine is not expected to be approved until the end of the year, and even then, it will be months before it becomes widespread enough. Several countries like France are experiencing a record number of daily cases in October. The United States continues to be the hardest hit. Despite 4% of the world’s population, the country has almost 21% of all cases with almost 8 million and 20% of global deaths with around 218,000 people.

Surprising fact

Gilead’s gains in the stock market during the pandemic have all but dissipated. Its price has risen 29% year-to-date before falling 3% below its position in January.

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