Don't treat coronavirus patients with Remdesivir, WHO warns

Don't treat coronavirus patients with Remdesivir, WHO warns
Credit: Belga

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends against treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients with Remdesivir, it announced Friday.

The recommendation comes “regardless of disease severity, as there is currently no evidence that Remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes” in hospitalised patients, the WHO said in a statement.

The recommendation was developed by clinical care experts, patient-partners and an ethicist. The experts emphasised the possibility of significant side effects, as well as its relatively high cost and logistical implications, since it must be administered intravenously, Belga News Agency reports.

The WHO experts based their conclusions on an analysis of four international clinical trials comparing the effectiveness of different treatments involving more than 7,000 patients hospitalised for Covid-19.

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The experts emphasised that it cannot be said at this stage that there is no benefit to be gained from re-delivery. But the fact that its effectiveness has not been proven, combined with its disadvantages, led to the organisation not recommending the drug.

The announcement follows a multinational WHO study, the results of which were published in October, showing no significant effect in preventing deaths.

Remdesivir was initially developed to treat Ebola and Hepatitis C. On 3 July, it became the first Covid drug to receive a conditional European marketing authorisation. That means that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorises for the drug to be marketed “in one, several or all European Union Member States.”

EMA said on 2 October that it would look into reports that "acute kidney problems" may be linked to taking the drug.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, no known cure or vaccine exists to date, though several pharmaceutical companies are reporting positive vaccine results, with clinical trials showing 94.5% (Moderna) and 95% (Pfizer-BioNTech) effectiveness.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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