Anti-viral drug remdesivir effective against coronavirus, study finds

Marco Green
May 25, 2020

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The randomized, controlled trial enrolled hospitalized adults with COVID-19 with evidence of lower respiratory tract involvement (generally moderate to severe disease). "Given the strength of the results about remdesivir, these findings were deemed to be of immediate importance for the care of patients still participating in the trial as well as for those outside the trial who might benefit from treatment with remdesivir", the researchers reported in New England Journal Of Medicine.

The data detailed in the journal is similar to early results that the NIH released last month from the study, which began in February with 1,063 participants in 10 countries.

Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., is a broad-spectrum antiviral originally meant to be used in the treatment of Ebola virus disease.

The trial closed to enrollment on April 19, 2020. NIAID quickly made the primary results of the study public due to the implications for both patients now in the study and for public health.

Remdesivir was discovered to reduce median healing interval to 11 days among patients handled the medication when compared with the 15 normally accepted by individuals who had been on placebo or standard care, according to a statement on April 27, that had been followed closely by the U.S. drug regulator forbidding it emergency use approval.

The report notes that patients who received remdesivir had a shorter time to recovery than those who received placebo. Recovery was defined as the individual being discharged from the hospital or discovered to be clinically stable enough to be discharged. The findings are statistically significant and are based on an analysis of 1059 participants (538 who received remdesivir and 521 who received placebo). This benefit was seen in the number of days to recovery.

In addition to this, there were also signs that the medicine increased the survival rate of patients on remdesivir by 7.1 per cent.

"But imagining" high mortality regardless of the usage of remdesivir".

Ultimately, the findings support remdesivir as the standard therapy for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and requiring supplemental oxygen therapy, according to the authors. "Future strategies should evaluate antiviral agents in combination with other therapeutic approaches or combinations of antiviral agents to continue to improve patient outcomes in Covid-19".

Based on laboratory, animal and clinical studies, World Health Organization is overseeing what it calls "Solidarity Trials" involving a number of countries on four possible treatments for COVID-19: remdesivir, which was previously tested as an Ebola treatment; the HIV treatment lopinavir and ritonavir; multiple sclerosis treatment interferon beta-1a; and related drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have been used to treat illnesses including malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.

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