The World Health Organisation said Thursday night that the antiviral drug Remdesivir strongly touted by US President Trump, as a cure for COVID-19, is of of little effect on patients.
Trump had used the drug in a cocktail of others to treat his COVID-19 infection. He came out of Walter Reed Hospital praising its efficacy.
Now a WHO report about the clinical trial of the drug and others has raised doubts about its usefulness. The study, which focussed on 11,266 patients, lasted six months.
Here is the press statement by WHO on its findings:
Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization, indicate that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.
The study, which spans more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients. 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 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.
The results of the trial are under review for publication in a medical journal and have been uploaded as preprint at medRxiv available at this link: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.15.20209817v1
The global platform of the Solidarity Trial is ready to rapidly evaluate promising new treatment options, with nearly 500 hospitals open as trial sites.
Newer antiviral drugs, immunomodulators and anti-SARS COV-2 monoclonal antibodies are now being considered for evaluation”.
According to the Financial Times, the remdesivir part of the trial involved 2,750 patients who received the treatment for 10 days, with 200mg delivered on the first day and 100mg for the subsequent days.
Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Pharmacology, said a trial as large as Solidarity “would be expected to show a survival benefit (for the drug, if one existed).”