WHO Says Remdesivir Is Not Effective As A COVID Treatment

by : Hannah Smith on :
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A widely promoted treatment for Coronavirus patients has been rejected by the World Health Organisation, who say that the antiviral drug is not effective. 

Remdesivir, which was developed by Gilead Sciences, has been used in several trials across the world during the pandemic, and was even given to President Trump while he was hospitalised with the virus.


But despite the hype, the World Health Organisation now says that there is not enough evidence to suggest that Remdesivir is actually a suitable treatment for COVID-19 patients.

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In a review of the drug published in the British Medical Journal, an expert panel said they had:

[…] found a lack of evidence that remdesivir improved outcomes that matter to patients such as reduced mortality, need for mechanical ventilation, time to clinical improvement, and others


The recommendation was based on four studies observed by the WHO, the largest of which included 5,000 patients, and ‘brought into question’ the benefits of the drug. The panel concluded that resources used to produce and deliver Remdesivir could likely be deployed more effectively elsewhere.

Importantly however, the WHO have also said that there was no evidence to suggest that the treatment had any negative effects on patients, and left the door open to revising their recommendation if new positive trials emerged in the future.


Remdesivir was the first COVID treatment to be approved by US regulators back in March, and has also been used to treat patients in the UK, Japan and Germany. Gilead Sciences has disputed the WHO conclusion, pointing to a number of studies which showed the drug was effective in reducing hospitalisation times. The New York Times reports that two of the Gilead-sponsored studies did not include placebo controls, and therefore may not have been considered credible by the WHO.


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Currently, the most widely used treatment for Covid-19 is a steroid called Dexamethasone, and the WHO has expressed concern that other effective drugs have been slow to emerge.

Dr Bram Rochwerg, the WHO panel’s co-chair, told The New York Times:

It’s a little unsettling that we haven’t found much that works yet.

But I am hopeful that ongoing research will identify other drugs which improve survival and symptoms.

There are positive signs in the fight against COVID-19 though, with Pfizer/BioNTech researchers set to officially apply for emergency approval for their vaccine today.


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Topics: Science, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Donald Trump, Now, WHO


New York Times
  1. New York Times

    World Health Organization Rejects Antiviral Drug Remdesivir As A Covid Treatment