From the first days of the pandemic, the urgency to give something to the sick led doctors to use drugs designed for other diseases in the hope that they could also work against the disease caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 .
The largest study carried out to date on four of these treatments has just shown that none of them save the lives of covid patients, as announced last night by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO Solidarity trial was testing the efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 of the antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the antiviral remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavirs, used against HIV, and interferon. None of these drugs has shown significant effects in reducing patient mortality after 28 days of treatment, the WHO has confirmed it’s a statement.
Solidarity has been a one-of-a-kind patient trial in both its size and the speed with which it was conducted. The evolution of more than 11,200 patients in 400 hospitals in 32 countries around the world has been analyzed. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either only normal care or the same plus one of the aforementioned treatments.
“None of the drugs studied reduced mortality in any subgroup of patients or had effects on the initiation of artificial respiration or the duration of hospital admission,” he explains. the study about the trial, which has been published openly on the web and is being revised to appear in a specialized medical publication, according to the WHO.
These results are the last nail in the coffin for treatments that have been praised by politicians without evidence of their efficacy, especially chloroquine and its derivative hydroxychloroquine. These drugs described as “revolutionary” by leaders like Donald Trump in the early stages of the pandemic have turned out to have no positive effect and may even be counterproductive in many patients.
The definitive results of Solidarity show not only that there is no effectiveness, but that there are slightly more deaths in the group of patients who received these drugs than in those who did not take them
The WHO already had to stop the use of these drugs in the trial in June on suspicion of increasing mortality, although it later resumed after a more detailed review, as the worrying data came from a study that turned out to be a fraud. A month later, the organization again removed these two drugs from the trial based on their own data. Now, the definitive results of Solidarity show not only that there is no effectiveness, but that there are slightly more deaths in the group of patients who received these drugs than in those who did not take them.
In the case of remdesivir, an antiviral developed against Ebola by the pharmaceutical company Gilead, the results open an important unknown, as the drug has been approved for use in both the US and Europe temporarily until there are solid data on its use. effectiveness.
The WHO trial shows that in global terms this drug is not effective. But a study published last week in the prestigious medical journal NEJM, pointed out that this drug makes patients recover about five days earlier than those who do not take it. In this study —which analyzed 1062 patients— a reduction in mortality was detected in a very specific type of patient: those who have just begun to receive oxygen but are not yet in serious condition or require assisted ventilation. Gilead Pharmaceuticals is conducting another clinical trial to test whether remdesivir given with a rheumatoid arthritis drug called baricitinib increases the positive effects seen.
With these results, the only drugs that have shown effectiveness against covid are dexamethasone and other corticosteroids, which do reduce the mortality of patients in serious condition. The WHO explains that the more than 400 hospitals in the Solidarity trial are already testing the effectiveness of new antivirals, immunomodulators and monoclonal antibodies.