Research Highlight

Popular repurposed drugs may not reduce mortality risk in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.163 Published online 16 October 2020

Four popular repurposed drugs being used for treatment of COVID-19 in many countries show very little benefit in the overall survival of patients, according to interim results of the World Health Organization's large, multi-country Solidarity therapeutics trial1.

The randomized control trial on COVID-19 patients — the world's largest yet — indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens had little or no effect in preventing death from COVID-19 or reducing their time in hospital.

Spanning more than 30 countries including India, and involving 11, 266 patients, the study (published preprint) looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients.

"The multi-country, large patient numbers offer the advantage of reaching meaningful conclusions on this very important clinical outcome," says K. Srinath Reddy, a member of the trials' executive steering group and co-author of the study. The conclusions can thus be generalised across diverse populations across the world, he says.

None of the four tested drugs show any benefit on overall survival. The drugs did not reduce the risk of death in hospitalized patients of COVID-19. The trial will continue to evaluate other promising interventions for their ability to save lives, through rigorously examined evidence from a large randomised trial methodology.


1. WHO Solidarity Trial Consortium. Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19; interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial results. medRxiv.(2020) doi: 10.1101/2020.10.15.20209817