A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir did not help hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In fact none of the studies have found it can improve survival. Remdesivir is authorized for emergency use in emergency cases in the US but has not been approved for COVID-19 in the country. It was among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was infected earlier this month. The WHO study involved more than 11,000 patients in 30 countries and 2,750 were randomly assigned to get remdesivir. Death rates after 28 days, the need for breathing machines and time in the hospital were relatively similar for those given remdesivir versus usual care. “The big story is the finding that remdesivir produces no meaningful impact on survival,” Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who led other coronavirus treatment research, said in a statement.
The cost for remdesivir treatment is about $2,550 per person. The WHO’s study generated criticism. Dr. Andre Kalil, a University of Nebraska infectious disease specialist, said the study was poorly designed, which makes its conclusions less reliable. Remdesivir’s maker, Gilead Sciences, said in a statement that the results are inconsistent with more rigorous studies.