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Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients: No evidence of anti-viral drug's effectiveness, says WHO

Predicated on the clinical trials, the WHO had issued guidelines against the use of Remdesivir in hospitalised COVID-19 patients last year

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | April 13, 2021 | Updated 10:06 IST
Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients: No evidence of anti-viral drug's effectiveness, says WHO
The Centre recently banned the export of Remdesivir and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) in the wake of a sudden spike in its demand. (Image: Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is still no evidence to indicate that Remdesivir is beneficial in treating hospitalised coronavirus patients.

WHO's Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan and its Technical Lead on COVID, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, on Monday told India Today TV that findings from five clinical trials in the past show that the use of the anti-viral drug has not helped in curtailing mortality or reducing the need for mechanical ventilation among hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

Talking about the prior clinical trials of Remdesivir, Dr. Swaminathan said, "Based on available evidence, there were about five trials... which essentially showed that Remdesivir given to hospitalised patients, didn't reduce mortality, it didn't reduce the duration of hospitalisation and it didn't affect the progression of the disease".

Also Read: Covid-19 update: Two arrested for Remdesivir black marketing in Mumbai

WHO guidelines on Remdesivir

Predicated on the clinical trials, the WHO had issued guidelines against the use of Remdesivir in hospitalised COVID-19 patients last year.

"We currently have made a conditional recommendation against the use of Remdesivir for hospitalised Covid patients, regardless of the disease's severity, because of lack of evidence showing that it improves survival and other outcomes, but we are constantly looking at clinical trials that are underway," WHO Technical Lead De Van Kerkhove said.

The global health body's guidelines development group publishes guidance on possible treatments of coronavirus, which is a working paper that can change with more data from clinical tests.

"We are looking at any emerging data that will be used to update the guidelines," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove stated.

Also Read: Ahmedabad-based Zydus Hospitals introduces rules for buying Remdesivir

Remdesivir: What's the silver lining?

Highlighting the only potential silver lining in the case of Remdesivir, Dr. Swaminathan said, "there are smaller studies that have shown, in some small subgroups, perhaps some marginal benefits, like some patients who need low flow oxygen, the NIH trial showed that there was perhaps a marginal mortality benefit but that is a very small subgroup of patients."

She further stated that WHO was still awaiting results from a larger clinical study to ascertain if Remdesivir could be helpful in the treatment of coronavirus cases at all. The data of the trial is expected to come out in a few weeks' time.

Simultaneously, several cases of hoarding and black-marketing of the anti-viral drug have come to light.

Govt bans Remdesivir's export amid spike in demand

The Centre recently banned the export of Remdesivir and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) in the wake of a sudden spike in its demand. Remdesivir injections are usually prescribed by doctors for the treatment of coronavirus patients in India.

Also Read: India bans Remdesivir exports till COVID surge abates

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