WHO’s Solidarity Trial shows Anti-viral Remdesivir has little or no impact on Covid-19 Patients chances of survival

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WHO’s Solidarity Trial shows Anti-viral 
Remdesivir has little or no impact on 
Covid-19 Patients chances of survival
Solidarity trial included 11,266 adult patients in over
thirty countries which may shift focus of treatment
to monoclonal antibodies
Gilead the manufacturers of antiviral Remdesivir
challenges WHO trial findings

SWITZERLAND: The announcement by the World Health Organization highlighting the findings of its clinical trial which concluded that the antiviral drug Remdesivir has little or no impact on Covid19 Patients chances of survival has dealt a severe blow to the commercial interests of a US based pharmaceutical firm Gilead and it is likely to shift the focus of treatment from antiviral drugs to monoclonal antibodies. WHO’s Solidarity trial included 11,266 adult patients in over thirty countries and it concluded that Remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on keeping alive or on the length of hospital stay among patients with the respiratory disease.

However, the Gilead scientists have challenged the trial findings saying that “we are concerned as the data from this open label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion”. The findings they further stated appeared inconsistent with evidence from other studies validating the clinical benefits of Remdesivir which had been used to treat President Trump. The United States President Trump, it may be mentioned here in addition to Remdesivir received Regeneron’s experimental monoclonal antibody which the WHO has stated can be added to its studies. Earlier, Gilead was also involved in a case of fraudulent publication of data regarding the safety and efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine the known antimalarial, a competitor of Gilead’s Remdesivir and the Editors of world renowned medical journals Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine had admitted that they were pressurized to publish that study by the powerful pharma company.

All this has started a new controversy exposing the vested interest of the Pharma Companies regarding their efforts to produce safe and effective drugs as well as vaccines and some of their activities are also being termed as Crime against humanity. Commenting on Gilead’s reservations, Richard Peto an independent statistician hired by the WHO to scrutinize the results of its Solidarity Trial dismissed their criticism saying “It is a reliable result, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise because they will try to. This is a real world evidence” he maintained.

Gilead had first developed Remdesivir as anti-Ebola drug but when the COVID19 pandemic began it stated that smaller studies of Remdesivir showed that treatment with this drug cut recovery time by five days and helped reduce the risk of death in some patients who were on oxygen therapy. However, Peto Professor Emeritus at Oxford University says that perceived benefits from the smaller trials’ could have been mere “chance”. One has to get randomized in large number. There is not sufficient emphasis based on the need for large number if you want really reliable results. “For this Remdesivir arm of WHO’s Solidarity trial was given, 2743 patients were given Remdesivir compared to 2,708 in the control group. Gilead study had 1,062 participants”. According to Clemens Wendtner Chief Physician o Infectology and Tropical Medicine at Munich’s Schwabing Clinic says that “The real disappointment is that Remdesivir has also failed in a larger number of cases and in the real world setting.” WHO trial also showed that other drugs like Hydroxychloroquine and anti-HIV preparation combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon offered little or no benefit to Covid19 patents. Hence, the battle against covid19 was far from over.

WHO says that it will issue guidelines soon for countries how they should deploy Remdesivir which was given emergency use authorization by US FDA on May 1st 2020? Future developments in this regard will be watched with interest by all the stake holders the WHO, Pharmaceutical industry, research scientists, medical editors and of course the patients.