WHO does not recommend remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment, doesn’t fully rule it out

The World Health Organization is recommending that antiviral drug remdesivir not be used to treat COVID-19 patients, despite some touting its benefits, namely President Donald Trump.

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The WHO panel said, “remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement,” The New York Times reported.

The report was published in The BMJ medical journal.

The panel did not say the treatment should never be used, only that there wasn’t enough evidence to recommend the treatment, the Times reported.

It said patents should still be enrolled in trials to see if there could be a benefit for some populations.

The drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences, has fired back at the WHO’s report, saying, it “is recognized as a standard of care for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in guidelines from numerous credible national organizations, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Infectious Diseases Society of America, Japan, U.K., and Germany.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of remdesivir in October, CNN reported. The agency gave emergency use authorization for remdesivir and baricitinib for the treatment of suspected and confirmed cases of the illness.

The NIH found it reduced recovery time from 15 to 11 days, the Times reported.

Not all experts agree., however. Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said first studies showed the benefit of using remdesivir, but as more data comes out, the findings are changing.

“We’ve seen people realize that the benefit of remdesivir is marginal at best — and the only benefit we had been touting was maybe it gets people better quicker. But the evidence base for that is weak, it’s not ironclad, and I think that’s what we’re seeing reflected in the WHO guidance, just more evaluation of the data that’s out there and more of now,” Adalja told CNN.

Trump was given remdesivir along with other treatments when he was hospitalized with the virus, the Times reported.

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