'Very promising' early results in COVID-19 drug treatment trial
An international clinical trial, co-led by UKRI’s Medical Research Council and UCL and supported by NIHR, which is testing the effectiveness of the drug remdesivir on patients hospitalised with Covid-19, has shown “very promising” preliminary results.
Launched at the start of April, the Adaptive Covid-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT-EU/UK) trial, is taking place in about 75 hospitals globally, with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Trials Unit at UCL leading the UK and EU study. Other sites in the EU (Spain, Denmark and Germany) were coordinated by the University of Copenhagen.
The randomised controlled trial, which has recruited more than 1000 patients globally, aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, as a treatment for Covid-19.The drug was originally developed to treat Ebola and Marburg virus infections.
The UCL-led part of this trial has recruited 79 patients, including 46 from the UK, and 33 from Greece and was closed to new enrolments on April 19.
Preliminary results released yesterday (Wednesday 29 April 2020) by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) shows the speed of recovery for hospitalised Covid-19 patients treated with the drug was 31% faster than for those patients who had the placebo.
Specifically, the average time to recovery was 11 days for patients treated with remdesivir compared with 15 days for those who received placebo. Preliminary results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group.
Recovery in this study was defined in three ways: being well enough to come off oxygen although remaining in hospital; being well enough for hospital discharge although not quite back to normal health; or being out of hospital and returned to normal activity levels. In the trial, patients were given remdesivir every day for 10 days while they remained in hospital.
The analysis was put together by an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), which is overseeing the trial.
Professor Mahesh Parmar, Director of the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, who has overseen the trial in the EU, said:
“This is the first large scale international trial to report on the use of the drug remdisivir to treat patients hospitalised with Covid-19. These results are very promising indeed. They show that this drug can clearly improve time to recovery. Before this drug can be made more widely available, a number of things need to happen: the data and results need to be reviewed by the regulators to assess whether the drug can be licensed and then they need assessment by the relevant health authorities in various countries.
"While this is happening we will obtain more and longer term data from this trial, and other ones, on whether the drug also prevents deaths from Covid-19.”