The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday revised Covid-19 treatment protocol, advising against administering Remdesivir to patients. The move comes over a month after WHO’s ‘Solidarity Trial’ found the anti-viral showed no evidence of impact on mortality, faster clinical improvement or other outcomes. In Mumbai, however, doctors plan to continue its use for now.
The state Covid-19 task force is going to discuss the fresh WHO guidelines in its meeting on Monday. Currently, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is continuing with Remdesivir as a part of the treatment protocol.
“We have administered the anti-viral to 1,200 patients. Our evidence suggests that if used early, the patient’s condition improves,” said Dr Balkrishna Adsul, Dean of Seven Hills hospital — BMC’s first dedicated Covid hospital.
Seven Hills hospital is using Remdesivir on 150 to 160 patients on a daily basis. It has over 4,000 vials in stock for future use. “Remdesivir should be used within four to five days of developing symptoms. If used after 10 to 20 days, it has little effect,” Adsul said.
Government and private hospitals in the city are currently using this drug for all hospitalised Covid-19 patients. In St George’s hospital, the drug is used for moderate to severely ill patients.
“As science and knowledge is advancing, research is providing newer evidence about drugs in this pandemic. But clinical trials produce different results based on specific objectives. We have very few treatment options available, so we continue to use Remdesivir,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, member of the task force. He added that WHO has given a “weak and not strong advisory against Remdesivir”, indicating that the evidence is not strong against the drug.
In October, WHO’s Solidarity Trial had opined that “there is no evidence based on currently available data that it (Remdesivir) does improve patient-important outcomes”.
“The panel placed low value on small and uncertain benefits in the presence of the remaining possibility of important harms,” it had added.
The WHO also considered contextual problems of availability and access to the drug.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration had granted approval to Remdesivir for Covid-19 treatment.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Remdesivir manufacturer Gilead said, “We are disappointed the WHO guidelines appear to ignore this evidence at a time when cases are dramatically increasing around the world and doctors are relying on Veklury (brand name) as the first and only approved anti-viral treatment for patients with Covid-19 in approximately 50 countries.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines