Health Care

World Health Organization defends data after concluding Gilead's remdesivir flopped Covid trial

World Health Organization defends data after concluding Gilead's remdesivir flopped Covid trial”

A World Health Organisation study of more than 2,750 Covid-19 patients suggested that antiviral drug Remdesivir has "little or no effect" on survival.

After months of planning and testing a handful of repurposed drugs that studies from around the world have found useful in treating COVID-19, researchers in the largest scientific study for potential COVID-19 treatments has found many of them ineffective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorised to treat Covid-19 in the U.S., does not stop patients dying or shorten their hospital stays, according to a massive World Health Organisation (WHO) study.

Remdesivir had received regulatory approvals or temporary authorisations to treat COVID-19 in approximately 50 countries including India.

The WHO study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it's available via a pre-print server.

What Happened: WHO performed a global study - covering more than 11,000 patients in 30 countries - to find the effectiveness of four drugs, Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir (fixed-dose combination with Ritonavir), and Interferon-β1a, in treating coronavirus patients.

"The emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of Veklury (remdesivir)".

The drug's manufacturer Gilead rejected the findings of the trial.

"These remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on hospitalized Covid-19, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay", the report said.

Why It's Important: There is no approved cure or vaccine to treat COVID-19 yet.

More news: Prince William Joins Queen for Her First Public Engagement in 7 Months

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday that their trials on hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June because they had already proven ineffective.

The remdesivir arm of the trial involved 2,750 patients.

The trial was created to be adaptive, allowing unpromising drugs to be dropped and others to be added.

Remdesivir has been the frontrunner in re-purposed drugs with various studies showing a positive recovery rate in patients.

Earlier this month, data from a United States study of remdesivir by Gilead showed the treatment cut COVID-19 recovery time by five days compared with patients who got a placebo in a trial comprising 1,062 patients.

Earlier this month, the EU signed an agreement with Gilead to supply up to 500,000 treatment courses of the drug for European countries - including Britain - with an option to increase orders further. "We're looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we're looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months", Swaminathan told Reuters.

What does the Solidarity trial data say?

"We're looking at what's next".

However the researchers said it was not possible to say whether the antibody responses induced by the vaccine were sufficient to protect from infection because the trial was not created to assess its efficacy.



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