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Remdesvir, interferon have no effect on COVID-19 treatment

A pharmacist doctor working on the basics of the raw materials for the drug remdesivir.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Findings from the World Health Organization solidarity study on COVID-19 therapeutics show that Remdesvir and Interferon have no effect on COVID-19 treatment.

The report released by the UN health agency gives results of four drugs that were being used as part of the Solidarity COVID-19 therapeutic trial. A total of 11,266 adults patients aged 50 plus from 405 hospitals located in 30 countries took part in the study.

The trial which began in March 2020, was aimed at studying the effect that Remdesvir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir and Interferon had on the death, ventilation and discharge time for patients after they were started on the drugs. But the findings show that none of the drugs appreciably reduced initiation of ventilation in patients that are not yet ventilated.

Figures from the study show that the number of patients who needed ventilation after they were given one of the drugs was almost as much as the number of patients who got a placebo of the drug. A total of 703 patients who received the drugs required ventilation after receiving the drugs compared to 679 who were ventilated after not receiving any of the drugs.

Regarding reducing the number of days spent in the hospital, findings from the study show that patients who received Remdesvir, Hydrochloroquine and Lopinavir did not have any effect on hospital stay. Seven days after receiving the drugs, there were as many people still admitted to hospitals who received the drug compared to those who got the placebo. On average, 67 percent of the patients were still admitted after starting treatment.

The findings further show that the drugs could not stop death from occurring because they could stop the virus from multiplying within the body and eventually spreading to the lungs, causing inflammation that leads to death.

Remdesvir received partial approval in April after a study carried out by the US National Institute of Health revealed that the drug could reduce the recovery time of patients from 15 to 11 days. In July, Gilead released data suggesting that the drug might reduce the likelihood of death.

Following the release of the findings, Gilead released a statement saying the WHO findings contradict what other robust randomised trials studying Remdesvir have found. “The emerging data appears inconsistent with more robust randomized, controlled studies validating the clinical benefit of Remdesvir,” the statement said.

The results from the solidarity study come as many studies have readily found Lopinavir and Hydroxychloroquine to be non-effective in treating COVID-19 patients. Usage of the drugs has since been halted. Uganda is set to start using Remdesvir in COVID-19 patients.

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