Fresh studies give more information about what treatments do or don’t work for COVID-19, with high-quality methods that give reliable results.
British researchers on Friday published their research on the only drug shown to improve survival — a cheap steroid called dexamethasone. Two other studies found that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine does not help people with only mild symptoms.
For months before studies like these, learning what helps or harms has been undermined by “desperation science” as doctors and patients tried therapies on their own or through a host of studies not strong enough to give clear answers.
“For the field to move forward and for patients’ outcomes to improve, there will need to be fewer small or inconclusive studies” and more like the British one, Drs. Anthony Fauci and H. Clifford Lane of the National Institutes of Health wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It’s now time to do more studies comparing treatments and testing combinations, said Dr. Peter Bach, a health policy expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Here are highlights of recent treatment developments:
The British study, led by the University of Oxford, tested a type of steroid widely used to tamp down inflammation, which can become severe and prove fatal in later stages of COVID-19.
About 2,104 patients given the drug were compared to 4,321 patients getting usual care.
It reduced deaths by 36% for patients sick enough to need breathing machines: 29% on the drug died versus 41% given usual care. It curbed the risk of death by 18% for patients needing just supplemental oxygen: 23% on the drug died versus 26% of the others.
However, it seemed harmful at earlier stages or milder cases of illness: 18% of those on the drug died versus 14% of those given usual care.
The clarity of who does and does not benefit “probably will result in many lives saved,” Fauci and Lane wrote.
The same Oxford study also tested hydroxychloroquine in a rigorous manner and researchers previously said it did not help hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
After 28 days, about 25.7% on hydroxychloroquine had died versus 23.5% given usual care — a difference so small it could have occurred by chance
Now, details published on a research site for scientists show that the drug may have done harm. Patients given hydroxychloroquine were less likely to leave the hospital alive within 28 days — 60% on the drug versus 63% given usual care. Those not needing breathing machines when they started treatment also were more likely to end up on one or to die.
Two other experiments found that early treatment with the drug did not help outpatients with mild COVID-19.
A study of 293 people from Spain published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found no significant differences in reducing the amount of virus patients had, the risk of worsening and needing hospitalization, or the time until recovery.
A similar study by University of Minnesota doctors in Annals of Internal Medicine of 423 mildly ill COVID-19 patients found that hydroxychloroquine did not substantially reduce symptom severity and brought more side effects.
“It is time to move on” from treating patients with this drug, Dr. Neil Schluger from New York Medical College wrote in a commentary in the journal.
The only other therapy that’s been shown to help COVID-19 patients is remdesivir, an antiviral that shortens hospitalization by about four days on average.
“The role of remdesivir in severe COVID is now what we need to figure out,” Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Bach wrote in an email, saying the drug needs to be tested in combination with dexamethasone now.
Details of the government-led remdesivir study have not yet been published, but researchers are eager to see how many patients received other drugs such as steroids and hydroxychloroquine.
Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, which is given as an IV now, has started testing an inhaled version that would allow it to be tried in less ill COVID-19 patients to try to keep them from getting sick enough to need hospitalization. Gilead also has started testing remdesivir in a small group of children.
Supplies are very limited, and the U.S. government is allocating doses to hospitals through September.
KATHMANDU: Over 150 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, of which 28 are in human clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, Russia has become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 Read More...
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. As of today, 473,179 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method have been carried out wh Read More...
KATHMANDU: Nepal has logged eight more Covid-19 related fatalities in the last 24 hours. This is the highest single day death-toll from the coronavirus infection recorded so far. Spokesperson at Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Jageshwar Gautam, informed public about the eight cases of fatal Read More...
At least 20,414,289 people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 742,207 people have died, a Reuters tally showed. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019. Read More...
COVID-19 Global Lens The COVID-19 pandemic presents the world with a huge challenge: everyone and every area is affected, and the response has to be both quick and consorted. This pandemic may be primarily a health crisis for some states, but COVID-19 is also an education crisis, an employment an Read More...
KATHMANDU: Kathmandu valley, yet again, recorded the highest single-day Covid-19 cases on Wednesday with 109 new cases in Kathmandu district, 21 in Lalitpur, and eight in Bhaktapur. A total of 138 new infections were reported today from inside the valley. With today’s additions, active case Read More...
DHADING: A prohibitory order has been decreed in Dhading's headquarters Dhadingbesi and its peripheral areas with the increase in COVID-19 transmission, since Wednesday. In an attempt to curb further potential spread of the highly contagious infection, the District Administration Office took a de Read More...
KATHMANDU: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who was rushed to hospital in Mumbai after complaining of chest discomfort and breathlessness, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. The news was confirmed by Bollywood's trade analyst and film industry insider Komal Nahta on August 11 night, according to I Read More...