NNA - More than three weeks after a senior US scientist announced that an investigational drug called remdesivir was speeding up the recovery of hospital patients with Covid-19, the study detailing the results was published Friday evening in a listed medical journal.
Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which conducted the clinical trial on a thousand patients in 10 countries, said on April 29, in the Oval Office of the White House, that preliminary data showed "that remdesivir (had) a clear, significant and positive effect in reducing recovery time".
After reviewing by a reading committee, the New England Journal of Medicine published the article detailing the results confirming the announcement in the White House, which had caused a glimmer of hope in the world, in the absence of another effective therapy for the new coronavirus.
Remdesivir, injected daily intravenously for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalized patients of Covid-19, compared to a placebo: 11 days against 15 in median duration. Patients who were able to return home were considered to have recovered.
The effect was greatest in hospitalized patients who were not on an artificial respirator. The authors conclude that it is best to start treatment with remdesivir before the disease progresses to the point of requiring an artificial respirator.
The antiviral, once developed in vain for Ebola, has also caused fewer side effects than placebo.
Remdesivir also appeared to reduce mortality: 7.1% of patients in the remdesivir group died within 14 days, compared with 11.9% in the placebo group, but this result is just below the statistical reliability threshold, and we cannot exclude that the difference is due to chance.
In all cases, remdesivir therefore does not give a guarantee of survival, insist the authors of the trial. "It is clear that antiviral treatment will probably not be enough on its own," they write.
The key to treatment of Covid-19 will undoubtedly be through combinations of treatments, remdesivir with other antivirals or other types of therapy.
The lab that developed remdesivir, Gilead, said Friday that results from its own clinical trials will be released soon. One of them shows that a treatment of five days, instead of 10 days, would be as effective, according to Merdad Parsey, medical director of Gilead Sciences.
In the United States, the Medicines Agency (FDA) authorized the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals on May 1, followed by Japan, while Europe is considering a similar decision. ---France24