Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorized for treatment of Covid-19 in the United States, fails to prevent deaths among patients, according to a study of more than 11,000 people sponsored by the World Health Organization.
The drug was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 after a trial by the National Institutes of Health found that remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recovery in hospitalized. President Trump received the antiviral after he began showing symptoms earlier this month.
“This puts the issue to rest — there is certainly no mortality benefit,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Alberta in Canada.
But other scientists said the design of the W.H.O.’s sprawling clinical trial, which collected data from hundreds of hospitals, meant the conclusions were not definitive.
Conducted in dozens of countries with various health care systems and inconsistent treatment protocols, the data are difficult to analyze and compare, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious-disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.
The findings, which were posted online on Thursday, have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
The W.H.O.’s study, called the Solidarity trial, enrolled 11,266 adults with Covid-19 in 405 hospitals in 30 countries. The participants were given four drugs singly or in combination: remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, interferon or interferon plus lopinavir. About 4,100 received no drug treatment.
In the end, no drug or combination reduced mortality, the chances that mechanical ventilation would be needed, or time spent in the hospital, compared with the patients who were not given drug treatment.