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Coronavirus | Repurposed drugs did not cut down mortality, says WHO

Remdesivir was among the first to be used as a treatment for COVID-19, and was one of the drugs recently used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump's coronavirus infection.   | Photo Credit: AP

Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), have indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalised patients as per information released by the World Health Organisation.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu, about the outcome Prof. K Srinath Reddy, member executive steering group, WHO Solidarity Trials and co-author of the study, said: “The SOLIDARITY trial is the largest trial to examine the effect of four treatments on the risk of death in hospitalised patients of COVID-19. As a multi-country study it offers the advantage of large patient numbers needed to reach meaningful conclusions on this very important clinical outcome and also provides generalisability of its conclusions across diverse populations across the world.’’

Also read: FDA approves expanded emergency use of remdesivir in moderate COVID-19 patients

He added that the trial has not shown any benefit on overall survival of any of the four tested drugs on reducing the risk of dying in hospitalised patients of COVID-19 .

“The trial will continue to evaluate other promising interventions for their ability to save lives, through rigorously examined evidence from a large randomised trial methodology,” said Dr. Reddy.

In six months, the world’s largest randomised control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics has generated conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, noted the WHO release.

It added that the study, which spans more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients. Other uses of the drugs, for example in treatment of patients in the community or for prevention, would have to be examined using different trials.

“The progress achieved by the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial shows that large international trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics,” noted the WHO, adding that the results of the trial are under review for publication in a medical journal and have been uploaded as preprint at medRxiv.

Meanwhile the global platform of the Solidarity Trial, according to experts, is ready to rapidly evaluate promising new treatment options, with nearly 500 hospitals open as trial sites.

“Newer antiviral drugs, immune-modulators and anti-SARS COV-2 monoclonal antibodies are now being considered for evaluation,” said WHO.

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), an active partner in the trials, said in a statement, “ICMR has succeeded in conducting this large randomised controlled study even during a pandemic situation and earlier lockdown. This study reliably answers to critical public health questions concerning therapeutics. Earlier, ICMR conducted PLACID trial for convalescent plasma indicating no benefit of it in COVID treatment.”

“The trial comprised 26 actively randomizing sites with 937 participants in India. We are grateful to the trial participants and their families for contributing to these crucial findings,” said Samiran Panda, head, ICMR-Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases.

'We are looking at immunomodulators'

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday that during the study, hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after they proved ineffective, but other trials continued in more than 500 hospitals and 30 countries.

“We're looking at what's next. We're looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we're looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months,” Ms. Swaminathan said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 8:04:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/remdesivir-did-not-cut-hospital-stay-or-mortality-in-covid-19-patients-who-says/article32868760.ece

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