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24 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Antiviral drug remdesivir fails first randomised clinical trial, according to WHO document

By Samuel Horti

Remdesivir, the antiviral drug that many hoped could treat Covid-19, has failed its first randomised clinical trial, according to draft documents accidentally published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The drug had shown promise in early testing, but a Chinese trial showed that it did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the level of coronavirus in their bloodstreams.

According to the WHO document, scientists gave the drug to 158 people, and gave the remaining 79 a placebo. After a month, 13.9 per cent of patients taking the drug had died compared to 12.8 per cent of the placebo group. The trial was stopped early because of side-effects from the drug.

The company behind the drug, Gilead Sciences, said the document had mischaracterised the study. Trading of its shares was temporarily halted after investors dumped stock.

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