Amid the overreaching surge of the pandemic, the demand for the anti-viral Remdesivir has also escalated exponentially.
But how effective is the medicine in curbing COVID-19 related mortality or are there any other drugs that show better result compared to Remdesivir?
In an interview view with news agency ANI, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said, “It’s important to understand that Remdesivir isn’t a magic bullet and isn’t a drug that decreases mortality. We may use it as we don’t have an anti-viral drug. It’s of no use if given early to asymptomatic individuals/ones with mild symptoms. Also of no use if given late.”
The doctor stressed that the drug should be given only when a patient is hospitalised, have a fall in oxygen saturation, and infiltrated on the chest X-ray or CT scan.
The WHO’s guideline also echoes similar concerns as expressed by Dr Guleri. Based on last year’s clinical trials WHO has made a conditional recommendation against the use of Remdesivir for hospitalised Covid patients.
According to WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan as per available evidence, “Remdesivir given to hospitalised patients, didn’t reduce mortality, it didn’t reduce the duration of hospitalisation and it didn’t affect the progression of the disease”.
Alternatives to Remdesivir
According to The Oxford-based Recovery Trial, the low-cost steroid reduces death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications. Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory drug.
WHO website mentions that ‘Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that can help reduce the length of time on a ventilator and save lives of patients with a severe and critical illness.’
FabiFlu tablet is an antiviral containing Favipiravir as its active ingredient. It is also anti-inflammatory and is used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 complications.
In Japan, Favipiravir is licensed since 2014 to treat influenza.
It costs Rs 103 per tablet.
Tocilizumab is another effective anti-inflammatory drug prescribed for Covid-19 patients. It is an injection-based drug. As per a report in The Guardian, Tocilizumab shortens the length of hospital stay; patients who are given the injection are less likely to end up on a ventilator.
Tocilizumab is comparatively high priced at Rs. 32,480.