A new study is casting doubt about the effectiveness of four possible treatments for COVID-19. One of them is Remdesivir, which seemed to show a lot of promise. It was one of the treatments given to President Trump.
The World Health Organization studied more than 11,000 COVID cases worldwide and concluded that the antiviral drug Remdesivir, among a few others, did little to reduce hospitalization time or prevent death in COVID patients.
"You always have to look at these studies very critically," said Dr. Debra Powell, Division Chief of Infectious Disease at Reading Hospital. "They were given a lot of treatments, and it was unblinded so, everybody knew what they were getting and there was no placebo control, our best studies have all those things included."
Powell said a study conducted by the New England Journal showed the drug was effective.
"The New England Journal article actually was a blinded study and randomized, I think that's a better study to look at the results from," Powell said.
Dr. Emilio Mazza, Medical Director of the Intensive Care Unit at Virtua Memorial Hospital in South Jersey, also noted flaws in the WHO report.
"There's a lot of issues in terms of where in the course of the disease the patient was, how sick were they, how sick weren't they," Mazza said.
Still, some health experts see some pros in the WHO study.
"The strength of the WHO study is the large sample size," said Dr. Raghav Tirupathi, infectious disease specialist at Chambersburg Hospital. Tirupathi said the drug has worked for some of his patients, but studies are a bit conflicting.
"I'm not putting all of my money on Remdesivir for sure. I am going to be using in that narrow window of seven to 10 days after onset of symptoms on patients who are hospitalized and are on oxygen," he said. "Those are the patients where I have seen the most benefit."
Tirupathi said finding the best treatment has been a rollercoaster ride.
All three doctors we consulted with said hydroxychloroquine is no longer considered an effective treatment.
"The standard of care is remdesivir and steroids," Mazza said.
"Steroids have been the superstar," Tirupathi said.
Mazza and Tirupathi said the best fight against the pandemic is still prevention and methods to control the spread, including masking, hand washing and social distancing. There's also interest in convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies, the latter of which was used to treat President Trump.