GENEVA (AP) – The world’s largest randomized trial of COVID-19 treatment has found “convincing evidence” that remdesivir, a drug used to treat US President Donald Trump when he fell ill, has little or no impact on severe cases, the UN health agency said Friday.
The World Health Organization has announced the long-awaited results of a six-month trial trying to determine if existing drugs may have coronavirus effects.
The study, which was not reviewed by peers, found that the four treatments tested ̵1; remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir / ritonavir and interferon – had “little or no effect” on whether or not patients died within a months or if hospitalized patients recover.
Most of those have already been decided. But remdesivir, an antiviral, has been classified as standard-of-care in the United States, and has been approved for use against COVID-19 in the UK and EU. Drug supplies are limited, and the European Medicines Agency is now evaluating whether remdesivir causes kidney problems as reported by some patients.
The results of the global trial are in sharp contrast to a large study in the United States, which found that remdesivir shortened recovery time by nearly five days on average.
Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University, says the results of the WHO test for hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir are consistent with a previous study in Britain he led.
“The big story is finding that remdesivir does not have a significant safety impact,” he said in a statement. He said the drug is now recommended in some countries but there are significant concerns about supply, cost and access.
“This is a drug that intravenous infusion should be given within five to 10 days,” note that it costs about $ 2,550 per course of treatment. “COVID affects millions of people and their families around the world. We need measurable, affordable, and equitable treatment.”
The treatments given to President Trump after he tested positive for coronavirus included remdesivir.
The WHO said the study, which covers more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of treatment on overall mortality rates, whether or not patients needed respiratory machines, and how much time what patients spent on hospitalization.
This story has been corrected to remove a misdescription on remdesivir which is a repurposed malaria drug.