Remdesivir Questioned By WHO Trial; Women Take Virus More Seriously Than Men

Big global study finds remdesivir doesn't help COVID-19 patients

US President Donald Trump has also received remdesivir as well as dexamethasone and a cocktail of other drugs for his coronavirus infection, according to White House doctors.

The WHO's Solidarity Therapeutics Trial was conducted in 11,266 adult patients in 405 hospitals across more than 30 countries.

According to researchers in a paper that has not yet been peer-reviewed, remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon drugs, when administered either separately or in a combination, "appeared to have little or no effect on hospitalized COVID-19, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay".

Gilead in a statement to the Financial Times said "the emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir". It said a US study comprising of about 1,000 patients showed recovery time could be cut by up to five days compared with patients who were only given a placebo.

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".

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Despite uncertainties about its effectiveness, remdesivir was the first drug approved by the European Union to treat severe cases of COVID-19. Chief Scientist of WHO Soumya Swaminathan said she thinks regulatory agencies of countries will reanalyze the trial data and decide whether emergency use should be continued. Some 2,750 people were allocated remdesivir, 954 hydroxychloroquine, 1,411 lopinavir, 651 interferon plus lopinavir, 1,412 only interferon, and 4,088 were given none of the study drugs. These drugs also didn't seem to have any effect on reducing the need for a ventilator or in cutting short hospital stays, unlike the earlier remdesivir trial suggested. "We are concerned that the data from this open- label global trial have not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion", Gilead said in a statement. "This is real world evidence". The Japanese government has approved the use of remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment.

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. For interferon and remdesivir, the authors note, this trial accounts for more than three-quarters of all patients who have been randomised to receive them so far. It found that all of the drugs tested had "little or no effect" on mortality, the need to be ventilated or the amount of days spent in a hospital.

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 WHO study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it's available via a pre-print server. "Covid affects millions of people and their families around the world". The European Commission announced a contract earlier this month to secure more remdesivir supplies for up to 500,000 patients. The antiviral drug previously failed as an Ebola therapy and then became an option to treat coronavirus.

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