Remdesivir useless in covid fight

Remdesivir useless in covid fight

Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorised to treat Covid-19 in the USA, does not stop patients dying or shorten their hospital stays, according to a massive World Health Organisation (WHO) study. Gilead said the data have "not undergone rigorous review".

"The main outcomes of mortality, initiation of ventilation and hospitalisation duration were not clearly reduced by any study drug", wrote the authors of a preliminary paper on the findings, released on the preprint website medRxiv Thursday. "This is real world evidence". It didn't look into other uses of the drugs for COVID-19, like in treating patients in a COVID-19-infected community, or for COVID-19 prevention.

There is a bit of uncertainty in the data, but the study says it "absolutely excludes" the idea remdesivir can save a significant number of lives and says the findings are "comfortably compatible" with the drug having no life-saving effect at all.

Prior to the World Health Organization study, a large controlled study of remdesivir in the USA found that it shortens recovery time by about a third in severely ill, hospitalized adults with Covid-19, but does little to help those with milder cases.

In addition to remdesivir, Trump received Regeneron's experimental monoclonal antibody infection.

The WHO findings conflict with data published earlier this month by Gilead.

Peto, an Oxford University professor emeritus, said the smaller trial's perceived benefit in keeping people alive could have been mere "chance".

"And you've got to randomise in large numbers", Peto said.

The drug costs $3,120 per treatment course for patients with private insurance in the United States. Gilead's study had 1,062 participants.

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The hydroxychloroquine and anti-HIV studies were abandoned earlier this year, and interferon was dropped on Thursday.

Remdesivir was given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in May after a study from the National Institutes of Health found the drug produced modest benefits in coronavirus-stricken patients.

The European Medicines Agency said it would review the trial data "to see if any changes are needed to the way these medicines are used".

As scientific evidence emerged, the list was toned down to only Remdesivir and Interferon.

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".

The results have not been published in a journal or reviewed by independent scientists, but were posted on a site researchers use to share results quickly. "Why pay 1 billion euros for a drug with no effects on survival?" said Andrew Hill, a senior visiting research fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool.

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.

Women are more likely than men to consider COVID-19 a serious problem and to agree and comply with restrictions like staying home and wearing masks, according to a survey in March/April of more than 21,000 people in eight wealthy countries.

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