In the corona pandemic, hopes rest that effective vaccines or medicines will soon be available. The Ebola drug remdesivir is considered a promising drug candidate. However, initial results from three randomized studies differ.
The disappointing news came from China. In a study in patients with severe Covid-19 disease, researchers were unable to find any clear advantage for the drug remdesivir. A study by the US National Institutes of Health with less seriously ill corona people brought slightly different results. Here, the time to discharge from the hospital could be reduced by taking Remdesivir. First results of a study by the manufacturer again show that a 5-day treatment could be enough. However, all results do not appear to be clear.
Chinese study: no significant benefits from remdesivir
Chinese researchers led by Bin Cao from the Sino-Japanese Friendship Clinic in Beijing treated 237 patients with Covid-19 with remdesivir or a placebo product. However, the study authors were unable to determine a significant difference.
There still seemed to be positive news. Apparently, the earlier the treatment is started, the better the treatment can be. Patients treated with remdesivir within ten days of the first symptoms recovered more frequently. However, the level of significance was also missed here.
US study: statistical relevance questionable
However, somewhat more positive reports came from the US National Institute of Health. Here, researchers had treated over 1,000 corona patients with remdesivir or placebo. In a first comparison, the patients who received remdesivir were able to leave the hospital after 11 days, but the patients in the placebo group could only leave after 15 days.
However, the criterion after how many days patients are discharged from the hospital is not a “hard” end point, since subjective assessments can also be included here. It would be more important how many Covid-19 patients with remdesivir survived compared to the control group. The NIAID also provides information on this: According to this, mortality in the remdesivir group was eight percent, in the placebo group, however, 11.6 percent. However, the difference is too small to be statistically significant.
Special approval in the USA
Another study has now been published by the manufacturer of Remdesivir, the US pharmaceutical company Gilead. In an in-house study, they compared the time of hospital discharge, depending on whether the patients had received remdesivir for five or ten days. The result: Compared to prolonged use of the drug had no advantage: After two weeks, 60 percent of the Covid 19 group who had been treated for five days had been discharged from the hospital, in the group that had been remdesivir for ten days got, only 54 percent.
Remdesivir, which was originally developed against Ebola, was not approved in any country in the world until recently. Last Friday, the FDA approved a special approval for the United States. However, experts warn against too high hopes due to the not very meaningful results.
Photo: Adobe.stock / Roger