An early version of a report on the trial results of a drug touted as a COVID-19 treatment threw cold water on those hopes Thursday. A summary of the clinical trial, conducted in China, was accidentally and briefly posted on a World Health Organization website, STAT reports. It showed remdesivir didn't help patients improve. The summary, however, wasn't ready to be posted yet. "The manuscript is now undergoing peer review, and we are waiting for a final version before WHO comments on it," a WHO spokesperson said. Gilead Sciences, which makes remdesivir, said the summary isn't the whole story. The study was stopped early because it didn't include enough patients, the company said, so it lacks "statistically meaningful conclusions."
But Gilead said it sees "potential benefit" to treating COVID-19 patients with remdesivir. Researchers gave remdesivir to 158 people, per the BBC, then compared their progress with that of 79 patients who were given a placebo. A month later, 13.9% of the patients taking the drug had died, as had 12.8% of those who had the placebo. Side effects was the reason for stopping the trial early. "Remdesivir was not associated with clinical or virological benefits," the summary says. An outside researcher said Gilead should include these results with those of larger studies it's conducting but said early indications are that remdesivir won't be of much help. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)