Ineffective Repurposed COVID-19 Drugs Identified By WHO Trials
In the biggest clinical research study, the world’s largest ongoing randomized control trial of potential COVID-19 treatments, WHO Solidarity trial, conducted by the World Health Organization, researchers have found that many of the repurposed drugs that studies from around the world have found useful in treating COVID-19 are ineffective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing the COVID-19 infection.
An interim report of patients’ responses to repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 has been released by WHO based on data collected from the trail, which included drugs like hydroxychloroquine, interferon, remdesivir, and lopinavir/ritonavir. In the trial, the drug Remdesivir was given to 2,750 volunteers, Lopinavir was given to 1,411, Interferon plus Lopinavir to 651, HCQ to 954, and placeboes (no drug) was given to 4,088 volunteers. It was observed that over a 28-day duration, there was minor or no effect of these drugs on the outcome of COVID-19.
Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 could be treated with these drugs as governments of many countries have granted emergency–use authorization to some of these drugs. With the findings from the Solidarity trial, consisting of 11,266 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, spread across 30 countries, could change these authorizations.
The research study looked at just how each of these therapies impacted the death rate, ventilator usage, as well as the duration of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the hospitals. The other benefits of these medicines for COVID-19, such as for preventing COVID-19 or for treatment of patients in a COVID-19-infected community, were not considered in this trial.
On the preprint server medRxiv, the outcomes of the trial have been uploaded and are yet to be peer-reviewed.
The WHO, Oxford University, FDA, and other countries ended their ongoing trials after it was seen that hydroxychloroquine had no favorable effects on COVID-19 patients. The combination of anti-HIV drug and lopinavir/ritonavir trials was also ceased by WHO after assessing the progression of these drugs in their results in July.
After the HCQ and lopinavir/ritonavir trials proved ineffective, these trials were stopped, said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist. However, as intended, the other trails continued.
Soumya Swaminathan said, “We are seeing what can be done following this and we are considering some of the anti-viral drugs developed in the recent few months, immunomodulators, and monoclonal antibodies as well.”
Having various research studies showing a positive recovery rate in patients, remdesivir has been leading in re-purposed drugs. In a trial consisting of 1,062 patients, the use of remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment showed that it reduced the recovery time by five days, according to data from a remdesivir study lead by Gilead.
A statement by Gilead said, “The WHO data seems to be inconsistent, with even more durable evidence from numerous randomized, regulated studies released in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical advantage of remdesivir drug for COVID-19 treatment.”
“It is of concern that given the constraints of the trial design, meticulous review needed to allow for beneficial scientific discussion has not been undergone by the data from this global trial by WHO.”