WHO to issue policy guidance on remdesivir

The World Health Organization says it will issue policy guidance in several weeks on the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has been administered in emergency use to treat COVID-19 in multiple countries.

The WHO announced on Thursday the interim results of a clinical trial which it coordinated that show remdesivir appears to have little or no effect in preventing death from COVID-19 or reducing time in hospital. The trial was carried out in more than 400 hospitals in 30 countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus provided further explanation at a news conference on Friday. He said he expects the full results to be published shortly.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said she thinks regulatory agencies of countries will relook at the trial data and decide whether to continue the emergency use.

She said the WHO will also come out with its policy guidance in the next couple of weeks.

The WHO says that for now the steroid dexamethasone, used to treat pneumonia, is the only drug effective for people seriously-ill with COVID-19.