Peer-reviewed data shows Gilead's drug helps COVID-19 recovery time

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 24, 2020

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.

About 7.1% of patients given remdesivir in the trial group died within 14 days - compared with 11.9% in the placebo group.

However, the result is just below the statistical reliability threshold, meaning it could be down to chance rather than the capability of the drug.

The trial, for which final results are still trickling in, showed that recovery time for patients given remdesivir was shortened by four days, or 31%, compared to placebo patients.

The researchers, led by scientists from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, analyzed initial results before all the data was available. The review led USA public health officials to disclose the preliminary findings and seek emergency clearance of the medicine, which was granted by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1. The researchers stated, "it's apparent that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is unlikely to be adequate". However, given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient. "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", they said. Papon, also a Member of Parliament, handed over the first batch of medicine to Health Minister Zahed Maleque to mark the drug's introduction, saying the firm will provide Bemsivir free of cost to all the severely ill patients of government hospitals which provide free treatment.

As noted, the investigators found remdesivir was most beneficial for hospitalized patients with severe disease who required supplemental oxygen. "Findings about benefits in other patient subgroups were less conclusive in this preliminary analysis". It's possible some patients who could benefit from the medicine may miss the window, if those results hold up.

Remdesivir, as experts say, was developed to fight hepatitis C and was then applied in cases of ebola and Marburg viruses, but it proved ineffective in all the virial infections and there is no strong evidence for any significant success of the application of the drug against COVID-19.

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