New York: Remdesivir, an antiviral drug initially developed to treat Ebola by the pharmaceutical company Gilead, has “little or no effect” on survival for people in hospital with COVID-19, a World Health Organization (WHO) trial has found. As part of its SOLIDARITY trial, WHO researchers tested the effects of four potential treatments, including antiviral drugs remdesivir and interferon-β1a, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and a combination of two HIV drugs called lopinavir and ritonavir. The results suggest remdesivir has “no meaningful effect on mortality”, said Martin Landray at the University of Oxford in a statement. Landray described the findings as “important but sobering”, adding that the trial “has done the world a huge favour by producing clear, independent and robust results.” The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, included 11,266 participants across more than 30 countries and found that none of the treatments had a substantial effect on COVID-19 mortality or on the length of time patients spent in the hospital.
In May, remdesivir was given emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration and was later approved for use in the UK and other countries. US President Donald Trump received the drug after he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. Gilead said in a statement that the findings of the study were “inconsistent” with others and emphasised that the results have not yet been peer-reviewed. A separate study of about 1000 COVID-19 patients conducted by Gilead earlier this month concluded that treatment with remdesivir reduced recovery time by five days compared to a placebo. The Guardian reports that Gilead was told about the results of the new trial on 23 September, and was given a draft of the study on 28 September as part of an agreement with the WHO to provide the drug for free. Gilead signed a contract to provide 500,000 doses of the drug with the European Commission on 8 October.
-Courtesy by New Scientist