Remdesivir effective against Covid-19 even after short treatment periods

In an international study, scientists from eight countries have investigated the use of the medication Remdesivir in the treatment of Covid-19. One result of the study, which included the participation of the Technical University of Munich’s university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar: The changes in the clinical condition of patients treated for five days were comparable to the changes in patients treated for a period of ten days.

The medication Remdesivir is what is referred to as an RNA polymerase inhibitor and was originally tested in treatment of patients suffering from Ebola infections. In recent months several clinical studies have proven the efficacy of the medication against the new Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Since Remdesivir had proven effective in previous studies when administered for ten days, the scientists wanted to find out whether a shorter treatment period would also be successful. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Study conducted on 400 patients with Covid-19 infections

Researchers investigated the efficacy and safety of the medication in 397 patients with diagnosed serious Covid-19 infections in the international, randomized study. The investigation took place in eight different countries during the spring of 2020. The patients, treated in normal and intensive care units, were randomly separated into two groups and received Remdesivir intravenously over periods of five and ten days. In the meantime the study has been expanded to an additional 5,600 test subjects.

Significant clinical improvements after only five days as well

The study showed comparable improvements in the clinical condition after therapies lasting for five and ten days. Changes in the patients’ condition were measured using a seven-point scale. “The duration of therapy is of great interest in medical treatment,” says Adjunct Teaching Professor Dr. Christoph Spinner, responsible for the study at university hospital TUM Klinikum rechts der Isar. “On the one hand patients are only treated as long as is necessary and, when appropriate, can be released from the hospital earlier. On the other hand the medication would be available to more people, an advantage in the face of expected limitations on production capacities. A shorter application period may also mean a reduction in side-effects for the patient.”

The side-effects observed in both groups were comparable, including nausea, acute deterioration in pulmonary function, higher liver function test values and constipation.

Publications:

Goldman, J. D.; Lye, D. C. B.; Hui, D. S.; Marks, K. M.; Bruno, R.; Montejano, R.; Spinner, C. D.; Galli, M.; Ahn, M.-Y.; Nahass, R. G; Chen, Y.-S.; SenGupta, D.; Hyland, R. H.; Osinusi, A. O.; Cao, H.; Blair, C.; Wei, X.; Gaggar, A.; Brainard, D. M.; Towner, W. J.; Muñoz, J.; Mullane, K. M.; Marty, F. M.; Tashima, K. T.; Diaz, G.; Subramanian, A. Remdesivir for 5 or 10 Days in Patients with Severe Covid-19. In: New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). May 27, 2020. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2015301

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