Go back

Early results from UCL’s Covid-19 drug trial ‘very promising’

 Image: motorolka, via Shutterstock

Patients given remdesivir recovered 31 per cent faster, shows joint UCL-MRC study

An international clinical trial co-led in the UK by the University College London and Medical Research Council has found a “very promising” effect of the drug remdesivir on patients with Covid-19. 

The Adaptive Covid-19 Treatment Trial aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the anti-viral drug, which was originally developed to treat Ebola and Marburg virus infections.

Preliminary results released on 29 April show the speed of recovery for hospitalised Covid-19 patients treated with the drug was 31 per cent faster than those who received a placebo, with an average recovery time of 11 days compared with 15 days.

The mortality rate for patients on the drug was 8 per cent, compared with 11.6 per cent for the placebo group.

“There is no doubt that these are very promising results…[and] that the time to recovery is improved by the drug,” said Mahesh Parmar, director of the MRC Clinical Trials Unit.

However, he said regulators need to review the data to assess whether the drug can be licensed for use against Covid-19.

“That’s right and proper because the data need to be turned over and examined by independent folk to assess both their robustness and veracity,” Parmar said.

“After the regulators have considered the data it will be considered by the health authorities in each country to consider whether and how that drug might be used.”

Parmar said the drug, if licensed, “will help a bit” with the exit from the UK-wide lockdown. However, he added that “most major diseases need combination treatment to show real progress”.

“If these results hold up over the next month or so, it suggests that remdesivir might be one of the backbones of combination treatment—but it is likely that we will need other drugs as well.”

The development was announced after the Lancet published inconclusive results from a Chinese study of the drug, which had to be stopped early because of difficulty recruiting patients.