Remdesivir is currently being tested alongside other medications to test its effectiveness against COVID-19 as part of a drug cocktail.
Six trials are currently ongoing testing remdesivir with another drug against COVID-19. Five other trials are ongoing testing drugs in tandem with a hospital’s standard treatment for COVID-19, which may be remdesivir.
Remdesivir has shown mixed results in COVID-19 clinical trials so far, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, said the fact that remdesivir is some hospitals’ standard treatment “can be misleading because it suggests this is very, very good therapy, but it isn’t.”
A recent clinical trial showed that remdesivir shortened hospitalized patients’ recoveries by an average of four days when compared with the effect of a placebo. However, recent trial results accidentally posted by the World Health Organization concluded that the drug “was not associated with clinical or virological benefits” in terms of COVID-19 treatment.
The fact that remdesivir must be given via an injection limits its use to in hospitals.
Researchers seek to know whether remdesivir works well in tandem with arthritis medications which reduce inflammation. These arthritis medications, like Olumiant and Actemra, may be able to treat the “cytokine storms” COVID-19 patients sometimes suffer from by reducing inflammation. Cytokine release syndrome, often referred to as a “cytokine storm,” is essentially an immune system overreaction which creates a runaway inflammation response which can be fatal.
Remdesivir is now being tested in combination with Olumiant against COVID-19, and an ongoing Actemra COVID-19 study will include patients receiving remdesivir in the study.
Researchers aren’t sure there will be enough remdesivir to cover all of the currently ongoing trials, said Genentech’s Mark Eisner.
“It’s a question that all of the clinical trial investigators have now,” Eisner said.
Remdesivir is theorized to treat COVID-19 by blocking the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase enzyme. Researchers have found that remdesivir can be incorporated into new RNA strands by RNA-dependent RNA polymerases since remdesivir is similar to an RNA building block. The polymerases can no longer add more RNA subunits once remdesivir is incoporated into the RNA strands and the SARS-CoV-2 virus can no longer replicate at this point.
Over 4.3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide. Over 294,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide and over 1.51 million people have recovered.