Remdesivir Reduces Time to Recovery in Adults Hospitalized With COVID-19: A Meaningful Step in Therapeutic Discovery

Main results. A total of 1107 patients were assessed for eligibility, of whom 1063 underwent randomization, with 541 assigned to remdesivir and 522 to placebo. Results were unblinded early at the recommendation of DSMB due to findings from the interim analysis that showed reduced time to recovery in the group that received remdesivir. As of April 28, 2020, a total of 391 participants in the remdesivir group and 340 participants in the placebo group had completed the trial (day 29), recovered, or died.

SOURCE: mdedge.com

The mean age of participants was 58.9 ± 15.0 years, the majority were men (64.3%) and were White (53.2%), and the most common prespecified coexisting conditions were hypertension (49.6%), obesity (37.0%), and type 2 diabetes mellitus (29.7%). The vast majority of participants (88.7%) had severe COVID-19 disease at enrollment, defined as requiring invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation, requiring supplemental oxygen, SpO2 ≤ 94% on room air, or tachypnea (respiratory rate ≥ 24 breaths per minute).

Based on available data from 1059 participants (538 from the remdesivir group and 521 from the placebo group), those in the remdesivir group had a shorter median recovery time of 11 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 9-12) as compared to 15 days (95% CI, 13-19) in the placebo group, with a rate ratio for recovery of 1.32 (95% CI, 1.12-1.55; P < 0.001). Moreover, the odds of improvement on day 15 in the 8-category ordinal scale score were higher in the remdesivir group, compared to the placebo group (proportional odds model; odds ratio, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.18-1.91; P = 0.001; 844 participants).

Mortality rate by 14 days was numerically lower in the remdesivir group (7.1%) compared to the placebo group (11.9%), but the difference was not statistically significant (Kaplan-Meier, hazard ratio for death, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.47-1.04). Serious AEs were reported in 114 of the 541 (21.1%) participants in the remdesivir group and 141 of the 522 (27.0%) participants in the placebo group. Moreover, grade 3/4 AEs occurred in 156 (28.8%) participants in the remdesivir group and in 172 (33.0%) in the placebo group.

Conclusion. The study found that remdesivir, compared to placebo, significantly shortened time to recovery in adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection.

Commentary

Since the initial reporting of a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, SARS-CoV-2 has been identified as the cause of this new disease (COVID-19), and to-date SARS-CoV-2 infection has affected more than 15.2 million people globally, with more than 3.9 million cases in the United States alone.1 Despite an unprecedented global research effort, as well as public-private research partnerships, both in terms of scale and scope, an effective pharmacologic therapy for COVID-19 has so far eluded the scientific and medical community. Early trials of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir did not demonstrate a clinical benefit in patients with COVID-19.2,3 Moreover, the first randomized controlled trial of remdesivir in COVID-19, a nucleoside analogue prodrug and a broad-spectrum antiviral agent previously shown to have inhibitory effects on pathogenic coronaviruses, was an underpowered study, and thus inconclusive.4 Thus, given the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic and a current lack of effective vaccines or curative treatments, the study reported by Beigel and colleagues is timely and provides much needed knowledge in developing potential therapies for COVID-19.

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