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Antiviral drugs don't get rid of COVID-19 faster, says WHO study

Last Updated Oct 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm PDT

Summary

Antiviral drugs being given to COVID-19 patients in hospital aren't significantly reducing symptoms: study

But the study found steroids do seem to have very clear evidence that they work at reducing mortality

The six-month study was conducted in part by UBC and involved more than 400 hospitals

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Antiviral drugs being given to COVID-19 patients in hospital aren’t significantly reducing symptoms or getting rid of the coronavirus faster, according to a World Health Organization study.

The six-month study, called the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, was conducted in part by UBC and involved more than 400 hospitals. Results indicate that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.

“Sadly, after these 12,000 patients, we have learned that none of these antivirals have a significant effect on reducing whether or not you live or die after you get hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

But there is one proven treatment for COVID-19.

“Steroids do seem to have very clear evidence that they work at reducing mortality, which is great news, and upwards of 30 per cent less mortality. And so that’s what every patient shouldn’t get if they are sick enough,” he added.

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Murthy also said some governments had ordered huge quantities of remdesivir based on limited research, but the new study proves it does not actually help.

“So we know from large scale clinical trials that steroids work. And, so, if anything made Donald Trump better, it is the steroids that he received. The remdesivir is unlikely to have made a difference.”

Steroids can improve symptoms, Murthy said, but don’t get rid of the coronavirus faster.

Results of the study were published hours after American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced it hopes to have a COVID-19 vaccine ready for approval around the end of November.