The antiviral drug remdesivir of the American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences began to be used to treat COVID-19 after it was reported that it could potentially suppress the replication of coronavirus. Despite ambiguous conclusions about its effectiveness and safety, it is widely used in the United States and other countries. In Russia, remdesivir and its domestic analogue are also approved for use and included in the temporary recommendations of the Ministry of Health for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, but there is no information about its use in clinical practice.
The new study, the results of which have not yet been peer reviewed, was conducted with the participation of 6.5 thousand patients hospitalized in hospitals in England and Scotland with a severe course of COVID-19. They were divided into two groups: more than 1.5 thousand patients received standard treatment and remdesivir, all the rest received standard therapy with dexamethasone and antibiotics. The group of remdesivir included patients who, according to scientists, could receive more benefits from receiving this drug – mostly younger people without serious comorbidities, but suffering from obesity who required treatment in the intensive care unit.
Both groups were observed for 28 days. The frequency of diagnosis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and renal failure was similar in both groups, and increased blood sugar levels were twice as common in patients receiving remdesivir.
The two-week mortality rate was comparable in both groups: 9% among patients on remdesivir and 12% on standard therapy. The median recovery period in the remdesivir group was one day less. The need for oxygen support and mechanical ventilation was more common in the remdesivir group, but it is not known if this was due to drug exposure or if patients developed severe pneumonia prior to enrollment.
“Overall, our study does not provide evidence that remdesivir is beneficial for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19,” the scientists said.