Treating severe COVID-19 patients with the antiviral drug remdesivir does not quicken recovery, the first randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial found. Although not statistically significant, those treated with the drug within 10 days of disease onset appeared to recover faster after than those patients who got a dummy.
Treating severe COVID-19 patients with the antiviral drug remdesivir does not quicken recovery, according to a study published in The Lancet. The drug did not significantly improve the time to clinical improvement at days 14 and day 28, mortality, or time taken to clear the virus in patients with serious COVID-19 compared with placebo.
Although not statistically significant, those treated with the drug within 10 days of disease onset appeared to recover faster after than those patients who got a dummy.
Remdesivir did not result in significant reductions in SARS-CoV-2 viral load or detection of the virus in the upper or lower respiratory tract compared with placebo despite showing promise in animal studies, the authors note.
But, 66% (102) of patients who got the drug experienced adverse event. More patients who received the drug than the placebo discontinued the drug because of adverse events or serious adverse events. The trial was stopped midway because of adverse events in 18 (12%) patients and also because recruiting patients for the trial proved difficult after COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan was brought under control.
This is the first trial where 237 patients were randomly assigned to receive either the drug (158 patients) and standard care or a placebo and standard care (79 patients). Neither the patients nor the physicians treating the patients knew who was receiving the drug and who was getting the placebo. It was carried out in 10 hospitals in Hubei province, China between February 6 and March 12.
Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Ebola by stopping the multiplication of the virus. It was found to be effective against novel coronavirus in both laboratory and animals studies. It was found to reduce replication of other coornaviruses — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
“Studies of higher-dose regimens (150–200 mg daily doses) for which there are safety data warrant consideration in severe COVID-19,” the authors write.