The anti-viral drug remdesivir should not be used for hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Friday, arguing that trials had failed to prove that this treatment is effective.
There was no clear evidence that the use of remdesivir reduced the risk of death or the need for oxygen support, and there was no clear effect on the pace of recovery among trial patients, WHO chief clinician Janet Diaz told a press conference from Geneva.
The WHO said in a statement that the possibility that remdesivir causes harm could also not be ruled out.
In addition, there are "relatively high cost and resource implications associated with remdesivir," the WHO argued, pointing out that the drug must be injected into the bloodstream.
The WHO had already published interim trial results in the middle of October that pointed to the drug's lack of effectiveness.
Approved by the US, EU
However, the US Food and Drug Administration formally approved remdesivir, a therapeutic made by US pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, in late October.
The drug has also won EU approval for severe cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Anti-inflammatory steroids such as dexamethasone are the only known effective drugs for severely ill Covid-19 patients.
"Right now we have one life-saving therapy," Diaz said, stressing that the WHO has been strongly recommending steroids.
Use of oxygen, advanced respiratory therapies and good intensive care have also proven to be effective in helping patients survive, she added.