Expert WHO panel advises against use of remdesivir for treating Covid-19 patients

An expert panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir for patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, regardless of how severely ill they are as no evidence existed currently to prove that it improves survival or the need for ventilation.

WHO Guideline Development Group based its recommendation on a new evidence review comparing the effects of several drug treatments on more than 7,000 patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in four international randomised trials.

In October, the WHO said its global Solidarity trial using remdesivir in the hospital treatment of COVID-19 had found it had little to no effect on the length of time patients spent in hospital or their survival.

Remdesivir, developed by US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences for the treatment of Ebola, was one of several drugs that attracted global attention as doctors looked for more effective ways to treat the novel coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year.

It was given emergency use authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States on May 1 and taken by US President Donald Trump when he was admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in early October. The drug also secured regulatory approval in several other countries.