WHO Issues Revised Guidance Recommending Against Remdesivir To Treat Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

AP: Health experts clash over use of certain drugs for COVID-19
“Health officials around the world are clashing over the use of certain drugs for COVID-19, leading to different treatment options for patients depending on where they live. On Friday, a World Health Organization guidelines panel advised against using the antiviral remdesivir for hospitalized patients, saying there’s no evidence it improves survival or avoids the need for breathing machines. But in the U.S. and many other countries, the drug has been the standard of care since a major, government-led study found other benefits — it shortened recovery time for hospitalized patients by five days on average, from 15 days to 10…” (Marchione, 11/20).

STAT: WHO group recommends against using remdesivir to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients
“…In a revised guidance issued Thursday night, the WHO’s Guideline Development Group said that it now has a ‘weak or conditional recommendation against’ using remdesivir in hospitalized patients because of clinical trial data that showed the drug did not increase survival. The group’s review also found the drug had no meaningful effect on whether patients would need to be put on ventilators. The group cautioned that its recommendations were based on ‘currently available data’ and that the certainty of the evidence was low…” (Joseph, 11/19).

U.N. News: Remdesivir no COVID-19 silver bullet, says U.N. health agency
“…The WHO press release also cites a feature article linked in the panel’s BMJ report, which says that the full story of Remdesivir will not be understood until its manufacturer, Gilead, releases full clinical study reports. In the meantime, reports the journalist who wrote the feature, Jeremy Hsu, alternative treatments such as widely available corticosteroid, dexamethasone, that has been proved to reduce mortality among some severely-ill COVID-19 sufferers, are ‘now impacting discussions about Remdesivir’s cost-effectiveness,’ in the words of the WHO press release” (11/19).

Additional coverage of WHO’s updated guidance is available from Financial Times, New York Times, and Reuters.

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