Study finds remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine have little impact on mortality in COVID-19 patients


A clinical trial conducted by the World Health Organization found that Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, AbbVie’s ABBV Lopinavir/ritonavir, and interferon did not impact mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. 

The study was first reported by the Financial Times on Thursday. In a pre-print, which is medical research that has not been peer-reviewed, researchers said that the four antiviral drugs had “little or no effect” on overall mortality, ventilation, and length of hospital stay among the 11,330 patients participating in the study. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment, based on a clinical study conducted in the U.S. that found the drug could reduce recovery times.

Researchers at the Radboudumc have discovered an unknown effect of hydroxychloroquine. It inhibits the action of a certain type of white blood cell, which is important in the fight against infections. The study, however, claims it is unlikely to have a beneficial effect on Coronavirus infections. Professor Dr. Willem Mulder at Precision Medicine points out the significance of this research, “The study shows that it is unwise to prescribe the medicine prophylactically as a precaution because this compromises the non-specific immune system. In addition, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are extremely important in determining the efficacy of the drug in COVID-19 patients.”

A certain type of immune cell, the monocytes, plays an important role in the first line of defense against Coronavirus, which makes the sense of further investigation of the effects of Hydroxychloroquine on these cells. Monocytes can develop a kind of non-specific memory, something called ‘trained immunity’. Thanks to this mechanism, monocytes are able to develop a stronger response to bacteria and viruses.

The FDA had also granted an emergency use authorization to Hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment. However, in a statement shared after the FT story published, Gilead questioned the validity of the trial data. To this, Raymond James analyst says, “We would hope that GILD reconsiders its knee-jerk dismissal of the solidarity study and reassesses the clinical value of remdesivir in the context of these new data.” 



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