WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) officials have warned that the anti-viral drug Remdesivir should not be used for hospitalized Covid-19 patients because trials have failed to prove that the medicine is effective.
Since the pandemic swept across the globe early this year, scientists have been working no-stop to try and find a cure for the virus. Several anti-viral and anti-malaria drugs have been touted as possible cures but none has yet passed all the necessary clinical trials to be deemed effective and accepted by the scientific community as such.
Remdesivir was one on the drugs recommended early on but Janet Diaz, WHO’s chief clinician, has warned that there was no clear evidence that its use reduced the risk of death or the need for oxygen support. She added that there was also no clear effect on the pace of recovery among trial patients.
Dr Diaz added that the possibility that Remdesivir causes harm could also not be ruled out. In addition, she pointed out that there are relatively high cost and resource implications associated with Remdesivir as the drug must be injected into the bloodstream.
WHO had already published interim trial results in the middle of October that pointed to the drug’s lack of effectiveness. However, the US Food and Drug Administration formally approved Remdesivir, a therapeutic made by American company Gilead Sciences, in October.
Remdesivir has also won European Union approval for severe cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Anti-inflammatory steroids such as dexamethasone are the only known effective drugs for severely ill Covid-19 patients.
Dr Diaz said: “Right now we have one life-saving therapy.” She added that use of oxygen, advanced respiratory therapies and good intensive care have also proven to be effective in helping patients survive.