COVID-19: How effective is Remdesivir?

COVID-19: How effective is Remdesivir?

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Remdesivir against COVID-19: Studies provide different results

Many options are currently being tested in the treatment of infections with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. One of them is the use of the virostatic remdesivir. Even though the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has already reported success with remdesivir from an ongoing study, doubts about its effectiveness remain. The data available so far do not allow any clear conclusions to be drawn.

"The first results from three randomized studies on the viral drug remdesivir, on which the hopes in the treatment of COVID-19 are currently based, differ," reports the German Medical Journal. The evaluation of the NIAID is, for example, in contradiction to a study already published in the specialist magazine "The Lancet", which was unable to demonstrate any significant effect on the COVID-19 course for remdesivir.

Antivirals also used against Ebola

New treatment approaches against COVID-19, triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, are urgently needed. Among the available medicinal products, the viricidal remdesivir (manufacturer Gilead Sciences), which is also used against Ebola, is one of the hopes of hope. However, in a first published randomized study, no significant advantage was found in the treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients with remdesivir. Even if there were indications that there could be a positive effect, this could not be clearly demonstrated.

US authorities report treatment successHowever, according to the NIAID, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) study found a clearer effect. "Preliminary results show that patients who received remedesivir took 31 percent less time to recover than those who received a placebo," the NIAID said. The median time to recovery after treatment with Remedesivir was eleven days, compared to 15 days after administration of a placebo. A survival advantage was also hinted at. For example, the mortality rate in the group receiving remedesivir was eight percent, compared to 11.6 percent in the placebo group, the NIAID reports.

Preliminary results are not reliable

In a technical article of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Professor of Clinical Pharmacology Robin Ferner from the University of Birmingham, however, takes a very critical view of the NIAID's statement : "Accelerated reviews or accelerated publications are fine, but the hint that the results will be positive only benefits drug manufacturers." It also fits in with the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to already be dealing with Gilead Sciences negotiates the fastest possible availability of the agent.

Reliable information is important

Although there is evidence of a positive effect of remdesivir in COVID-19 and this seems most likely if treatment is started early, a final evaluation based on the data available so far is not possible. Although it is "desirable that the treatments be evaluated quickly, what we need is reliable information," emphasizes Professor Ferner. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Yeming Wang, Dingyu Zhang, Guanhua Du, Ronghui Du, Jianping Zhao, Yang Jin, et al .: Remdesivir in adults with severe COVID-19: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial; in: The Lancet (published April 29, 2020),
  • Deutsches Aerzteblatt international: COVID-19: Remdesivir Has Moderate Effect in First Randomized Studies (published April 30th, 2020),
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): NIH Clinical Trial Shows Remdesivir Accelerates Recovery from Advanced COVID-19 (published April 29, 2020),

Video: Antiviral drug remdesivir shows promise as COVID-19 treatment (June 2022).