Neither chloroquine nor remdesivir are able to save covid-19 lives, says WHO study

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posted on 10/17/2020 10:51


(credit: Diego Vara / Agência Brasil)

A survey led by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that four antivirals used to treat covid-19 are ineffective in treating covid-19. Among them are hydroxychloroquine, which until today is defended by President Jair Bolsonaro, and remdesivir, the first drug approved to treat the disease in the United States.

The Solidarity Therapeutics Trial study analyzed data in more than 30 countries and 405 hospitals. This is the largest study to date with these drugs. This Thursday (10/15), WHO pre-published the results, but the research is still awaiting approval in a scientific journal to be published. The WHO, however, stated that the results are conclusive.

According to the study, in addition to hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir, the combination of lopinavir / ritonavir and interferon beta-1a were also not effective in treating the disease.

11,266 adults participated in the research. Of these, 2,750 took remdesivir; 954, hydroxychloroquine; 1,411, lopinavir; 651, interferon plus lopinavir, 1,412, Interferon only; and 4,088 were part of the control group, which did not receive the drugs.

Altogether, 1,253 deaths were reported and the drugs had little or no role in reducing mortality or length of hospital stay.

“None of the drugs studied reduced mortality in any subset of patients or had any effect on the initiation of artificial respiration or the length of hospital stay,” says the study.

According to the doctor at the Sírio-Libanês Hospital Luciano Cesar Azevedo, the matter is closed in relation to these drugs. “It is a well-designed, global study, with a significant number of countries. Much larger than all previous studies. It is much larger than the American study that had shown some benefit of remdesivir. And as for hydroquichloroquine, it only shows what the previous studies had already shown “, he affirms.

Evaldo Stanislau, member of the board of the Sociedade Paulista de Infectologia, adds that although the study is quite extensive, he uses a different methodology from other research, in the case of remdesivir. “It is a robust study. There is criticism about being a drug that was tested differently. This may have skewed the analysis. Since there is no placebo control. The other studies were smaller, with different methodology”, he explains .

Luciano Azevedo clarifies that finding a drug for covid-19 can be very difficult and that is why protection measures must continue. “If you look, covid-19 is an acute viral disease like yellow fever and dengue. We have no antiviral treatment for these diseases, exactly because it is difficult to identify a treatment that acts early in the body. people will have a drug to fight the virus in the acute phase, it is very complex and difficult to imagine “, he highlights. however, he adds that there are other studies underway. “There are other drugs in studies. There is still a long way to define a study for an effective drug. But it seems to me that once we have the use of vaccines, it will probably decrease the search for a drug. Maybe it will be very difficult after using vaccines. , have an interest in continuing to study drugs for this disease “, he explains.

“the message that has to be got is that we still have no treatment. People need to continue protecting themselves. The pandemic is not over. Things should only get better with the vaccine.”
Luciano Cesar de Azevedo, Coordinator of the graduate program in intensive care at Hospital Sírio-Libanês

The test results appear after a week of the European Union closing a 1 billion euros agreement to supply remdesivir for treatment of covid-19 by the company Gilead.

Other evidence

Another study, from the School of Public Health at Boston University, in the United States, released in July, stated that remdesivir could reduce the length of stay in the Intensive Care Unit 15 to 11 days and deaths by 30% due to Covid-19. The drug was used by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, when he had covid-19. Trump also received a cocktail of neutralizing antibodies from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

The drug was developed to treat Ebola, but it was never approved to be used against the disease.

In the case of chloroquine, other studies have already shown the ineffectiveness of the drug. In June, the largest study on the subject, done in Brazil, showed that the drug has no effect against the disease. President Jair Bolsonaro, however, continues to advocate the use of the drug, which is used to treat malaria, as a solution to covid-19. The Chief Executive even attributed his cure of the disease to the use of medication. In addition, the Ministry of Health launched a protocol that authorizes the Unified Health System (SUS) to offer these drugs for mild cases of the disease.

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