Trial results accidentally posted by the World Health Organization (WHO) then later deleted concluded that remdesivir “was not associated with clinical or virological benefits” regarding the treatment of COVID-19.
158 patients in the trial were given remdesivir, a drug originally designed for the treatment of Ebola, and 79 were given a placebo. The study investigated whether patients given remdesivir improved more in 28 days than patients given a placebo.
13.9 percent of patients given remdesivir died compared to 12.8 percent of patients given placebo. This difference is statistically insignificant.
The study’s summary said remdesivir was “not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement.”
The trial results were mistakenly published by the WHO.
“A draft document was provided by the authors to WHO and inadvertently posted on the website and taken down as soon as the mistake was noticed,” said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic. “The manuscript is undergoing peer review and we are waiting for a final version before WHO comments.”
The drug’s manufacturer doesn’t think the trial results necessarily mean the drug doesn’t work.
“The post included inappropriate characterizations of the study,” said Gilead representative Amy Flood. The study does not “enable statistically meaningful conclusions” because the sample size of patients is too small, she said.
Flood said “trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.”
Liverpool University’s Andrew Hill said the trial’s results mean any benefit from remdesivir in treatment of COVID-19 is likely small.
“If there is no benefit to remdesivir in a study this size, this suggests that the overall benefit of remdesivir in this population with advanced infection is likely to be small in the larger Gilead trial,” he said.
The news is disappointing as many have had high hopes for remdesivir regarding COVID-19 treatment. There have been over 2.95 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide resulting in over 205,000 deaths. The pandemic has led to the largest global recession since the Great Depression. There is no known vaccine or proven antiviral treatment for the disease.
A recent Chinese study has also found that remdesivir may lower the sperm count of mice.
The study was done by Shenzhen Second People’s Hospital and the Shenzhen Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital. They injected 28 male mice with remdesivir and found the mice had lowered sperm count, lowered sperm motility and an increase in sperm abnormalities.