Remdesivir Fails to Prevent Covid-19 Deaths in Huge Trial

To date, Remdesivir is the only FDA approved drug to treat the Covid-19 in United States. However, according to a new WHO study called the WHO SOLIDARITY trial of over 11,000 people from 30 countries, remdesivir fails to prevent mortalities among Covid-19 patients along with other antivirals. Study findings were published in a preprint server medRxiv on Thursday and have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

Remdesivir is an inhibitor of the viral genetic material, has been reported to inhibit viral activity against other coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-1 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), was identified early as a promising therapeutic candidate for Covid-19 because of its ability to inhibit SARS-CoV-2.

While, the drug failed to treat the hepatitis and Ebola, scientists with the help of the federal funding, scientists used this drug to treat the Covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2. On May 1st, 2020, the drug got the FDA approval following a trial by the National Institutes of Health, which found that remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recovery in severely ill patients.

 

Research findings of that study were published in The New England Journal of Medicine on October 8, 2020. In that double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of intravenous remdesivir in hospitalized Covid-19 infected adults, who had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.

Source: AFP

A total of 1062 patients were randomly assigned to receive either remdesivir or placebo for up to 10 days, 541 assigned to remdesivir and 521 to placebo. Results showed that those who received remdesivir had a median recovery time of 10 days relative to 15 days among those who received placebo. Furthermore, patients who took remdesivir, were found to be more likely to have clinical improvement at day 15 than those who had placebo.

Moreover, the Kaplan–Meier estimates of mortality were 6.7% with remdesivir and 11.9% with placebo by day 15 and 11.4% with remdesivir and 15.2% with placebo by day 29. Additionally, study reported that adverse events in 131 of the 532 patients who received remdesivir (24.6%) and in 163 of the 516 patients who received placebo (31.6%).

That study itself did not reported the effect of remdesivir on the mortality rates significantly, let alone reported the effect on the recovery rate and hospital stays. However, in the W.H.O.’s study, called the Solidarity trial, over 11,300 adults with Covid-19 in 405 hospitals in 30 countries were enrolled. The patients were treated with four antiviral drugs named for four drugs either singly or in combination: remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, interferon or interferon + lopinavir.

Nearly 4,100 were not given any drug. Study reported that no drug or combination drug used had any significant impact on reducing the mortality, thereby speculating the need for mechanical ventilation despite the drug treatment. The study showed no profound effect reported on time spent in the hospital relative to the patients without drug treatment.

“The remdesivir findings aren’t terribly surprising based on previous findings, but they are “still impactful,” especially given the dizzying size of the Solidarity trial, said Dr. Maricar Malinis, an infectious disease physician at Yale University.

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