Is a 5-day treatment course with the SARS-CoV-2 drug ‘remdesivir’ as effective as a 10-day treatment course?

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Bottom Line:

The 5-day remdesivir treatment was as effective as the 10-day treatment course at improving COVID-19 patients’ health. In addition, both treatment durations had a similar frequency of side effects.

Reference:

Goldman, J.D. et al. Remdesivir for 5 or 10 Days in Patients with Severe Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine (2020). https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2015301

Date Published:

27 May 2020

Synopsis:

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug which has been used to treat COVID-19 patients, and the standard treatment duration for remdesivir is 10 days. It is important to determine whether a shorter treatment duration is equally effective, as a shorter treatment length could not only reduce the time that patients spend in hospital, but also better conserve limited supplies of the medication. This study examined patients who were infected with SARS-CoV-2, had pneumonia, and had low oxygen levels. Patients either received the standard 10-day remdesivir treatment or a 5-day treatment course, and the two options were compared to determine their effectiveness and side effects. The two treatment options resulted in similar improvements to patient health, with roughly 3 in 5 patients being substantially healthier after the treatment was complete. Additionally, the 5-day and 10-day treatment courses had similar frequencies of side effects, although the 5-day treatment course had fewer severe side effects (1 in 5 patients) than the 10-day treatment course (1 in 3 patients). The findings of this study show that a 5-day and 10-day remdesivir treatment are comparable in effectiveness, and indicates that a 5-day treatment course can be used instead of a 10-day duration without harming patient health. A limitation of this study is that there was no placebo group (i.e. a group of patients who did not receive remdesivir at all), so the effectiveness of remdesivir compared to no antiviral treatment could not be directly determined.

Summary by: Jacob Ferguson