WHO study: most drugs used against corona do not work

Another setback for covid-19 patients and their practitioners. Preliminary results from a large study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that four commonly used antivirals do not work against covid-19. The research, Solidarity trial was performed in over 400 hospitals in thirty countries. More than 11,000 patients participated.

In the study, some 7,000 patients received one of four antivirals or a combination thereof. More than 4,000 others were not receiving any of the antivirals, but standard care. The drugs had little or no influence on the mortality of non-ventilated patients or other subgroups of patients, nor on the use of ventilation or the duration of hospitalization of the patients.

The drugs studied are remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir (in combination with ritonavir) and interferon beta1a (with lopinavir). The study has not yet peer review and has therefore not yet been peer-reviewed by the authors.

Recovery trial

The WHO study was designed to determine whether the four antivirals have any effect on the mortality of the covid-19 patients in the hospital. The researchers also looked at their hospitals to see whether the drugs had different effects in moderately and severely ill patients. No significant effects were found in either area.

Remdesivir has previously been found to slightly shorten the length of hospitalization and recovery in covid-19 patients and to reduce mortality. From the Solidaritystudy does not show that clearly. However, it has been suggested that patients with a lower risk of a serious course of the disease may benefit from the drug more than patients with a high risk of it.

The researchers found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir had any beneficial or adverse effect. That finding is supported by the results of another study, in which hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir were examined for their effect on mortality 28 days after the start of covid-19.

4000 patients

Prescribing interferon beta1a was also found to have no effect on the number of deaths in covid-19 patients in the Solidarity study. The Interferon portion of the study included 4000 patients.

There are no other studies on the effect of this drug on the mortality rate. There is, however, a small study – with a hundred patients – which shows that a spray of interferon beta1a would be very effective in the treatment of covid-19. That research has yet to be confirmed in a much larger study that is currently underway.


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