We’ve been covering the story about Remdesivir since early March. It all started after U.S. President touted the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a game-changer for the treatment of coronavirus patients. Ever since his announcement in support of the drug, an all-out war was waged by the media on hydroxychloroquine after several anecdotal reports from doctors that the drug was successfully used to treat many coronavirus patients.
In late March, the CDC issued clinical guidance on chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir as therapeutic treatment options for COVID-19 patients. Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Pharmaceuticals, is an investigational intravenous drug with a broad antiviral activity that inhibits viral replication through premature termination of RNA transcription and has in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 and in-vitro and in-vivo activity against related beta coronaviruses.
On April 16, Gilead reported that early trial results from Remdesivir testing showed the drug to be effective in treating coronavirus patients in Chicago hospital. Then on April 23, an independent report from Financial Times, citing documents accidentally published by the World Organization, found that Remdesivir failed in a clinical trial. The report showed that Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir flopped in a Chinese trial aimed at treating coronavirus patients. The study found that Remdesivir did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the coronavirus pathogen in their bloodstream. In June, Gilead said it would make remdesivir at a cost $3,120 per U.S. patient.
Fast forward four months later, a new study of more than 11,000 people in 30 countries sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), found that remdesivir failed to prevent COVID-19 deaths in huge a trial. The study finds remdesivir did not lower the mortality rate in a multinational trial.
The data, which were posted online on Thursday, have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.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.