An antiviral widely used to treat hospitalized patients did not lower the mortality rate in a multinational trial.
By Katherine J. Wu and Gina Kolata
Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorized for treatment of Covid-19 in the United States, fails to prevent deaths among patients, according to a study of more than 11,000 people in 30 countries sponsored by the World Health Organization.
The data, which were posted online on Thursday, have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
“This puts the issue to rest — there is certainly no mortality benefit,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Alberta in Canada.
But Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious-disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, was more circumspect.
A huge trial like this one, conducted in various countries with various health care systems, can lead to inconsistent treatment protocols whose effects can be difficult to analyze, he said.
“So much goes into care, “ Dr. Chin-Hong said. “The drug is only part of it.”
Remdesivir, which was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola and hepatitis C, interferes with the reproduction of viruses by jamming itself into new viral genes.
The drug was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 following a trial by the National Institutes of Health, which found that remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recovery in severely ill patients.
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