WHO Solidarity trial testing antiviral drug remdesivir, as it could stop coronavirus from replicating


In an observational study, 68 per cent or two out of three patients after treatment with the drug did not require ventilator support

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. (Photo | AP)

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday said antiviral drug remdesivir, which was used during the Ebola outbreak, may be highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

The ICMR said research on its efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 is a part of WHO's "Solidarity Trial".

According to a recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, two out of three critically ill coronavirus infected patients who were on oxygen support or on ventilators showed signs of improvement when they were administered remdesivir.

Commenting on the study, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar said that drug which was used against Ebola virus, according to the researchers, hinders the reproduction of coronavirus which is why they believe that it could be effective in COVID-19 treatment.

"A recently reported study on use of remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment is not a clinical trial, but an observational study which found that 68 per cent or two out of three patients after treatment with the drug did not require ventilator support or their need for oxygen support reduced. We will come to know of further developments through the WHO Solidarity Trial, which has an arm which is looking into this," he said.

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He further said that remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc, is not presently available in the country and the government is working on to see if  any pharmaceutical company can manufacture it.