WHO Dashes Hopes for Remdesivir, Other Drugs

Remdesivir and other treatments had little-to-no effect on mortality, duration of hospital stays, or the need for ventilators among COVID-19 patients, according to interim results of the WHO’s Solidarity Therapeutics trial.
The large study of nearly 11,300 people hospitalized in more than 30 countries ruled out any major impact from hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens as well as remdesivir (administered singly or in various combinations).

The results, published yesterday on a pre-print server, have not yet been peer-reviewed.

Key Takeaways:

  • The results are disappointing for remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorized for treatment of Covid-19 in the US, the New York Times reports. But the University of California, San Francisco's Peter Chin-Hong cautioned that the trial involving dozens of countries with different health care systems can “lead to inconsistent treatment protocols whose effects can be difficult to analyze.”  
  • Gilead, maker of remdesivir, questioned the results, saying the findings “appeared inconsistent and were premature,” pointing to other studies that validated its benefits, Reuters reports.
  • Science’s Kai Kupferschmidt tweeted that Gilead’s inking of a billion-dollar deal with the EU for remdesivir—after Gilead had seen the Solidarity manuscript—raises questions. 
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