Lives Lost to Covid-19 Due to Slow Regulatory Recommendations

(p. B1) In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nebraska Medical Center was at the forefront of an international clinical trial of the drug remdesivir, . . .

. . .

By April 2020, the early trial showed that remdesivir shortened the time it took for all patients hospitalized for COVID-19 to recover by five days overall, compared with those who received a placebo.

. . .

A study published last week in the British medical journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine confirmed findings of the initial NIH trial.

Dr. Andre Kalil, who led the Omaha-based arm of the trial, said it’s always important to see studies replicated by other (p. B2) researchers.

But Kalil, in an invited commentary on the Lancet study, noted that a number of public health and medical bodies delayed acting on the early beneficial results and recommending the drug in guidelines for clinicians.

The National Institutes of Health and the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines for nearly two years recommended remdesivir only for hospitalized patients who received supplemental oxygen. Only after that time did the groups recommend it for patients who were hospitalized but did not need supplemental oxygen.

The World Health Organization didn’t recommend remdesivir for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 until late 2022.

“Regrettably, the delays in recommendation of remdesivir for patients — even after the initial remdesivir shortage was resolved — adversely shaped antimicrobial policy in hospitals around the world, preventing patients from receiving timely remdesivir,” wrote Kalil, a University of Nebraska Medical Center professor and an infectious diseases physician with Nebraska Medicine, the health system that includes the Nebraska Medical Center.

In an interview, Kalil said he believes more lives could have been saved if the guideline panels had been more timely in making their recommendations. All three now recommend remdesivir for hospitalized patients.

For the full story, see:

Julie Anderson. “Delays on Remdesivir May Have Cost Lives.” Omaha World-Herald (Sunday, March 5, 2023): B1-B2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “Could earlier adoption of remdesivir have saved lives during the COVID pandemic?”)

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