General Practice 2022

Remdesivir: what é and how it works against COVID-19

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Remdesivir: what é and how it works against COVID-19
Remdesivir: what é and how it works against COVID-19

Remdesivir is the first antiviral drug approved by ANVISA for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults and children, who are hospitalized with severe pneumonia, using oxygen therapy.

This drug, with the trade name Veklury, was initially developed to treat Ebola, but clinical research with people with COVID-19 has shown that remdesivir is able to prevent the multiplication and replication of the coronavirus, accelerating recovery time, allowing for a shorter hospital stay.

Remdesivir is an injectable drug, given directly into a vein, and should only be used in hospitalized people with COVID-19, as the person must remain under medical supervision while receiving remdesivir.

What is it for

Remdesivir is indicated for the treatment of severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19 in adults and children over 12 years of age, who weigh at least 40 kg, and who have a low blood oxygen level being treated with oxygen. However, remdesivir is not indicated for people who are using or needing a mechanical ventilator.

How does it work against COVID-19?

Remdesivir interferes with the production of the coronavirus' genetic material, which is viral RNA, preventing the virus from multiplying inside a person's cells, which can help the body recover from COVID-19 infection and improving faster.

The pivotal clinical study done with remdesivir [1], NIAID-ACTT-1, involving 1,063 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 showed that patients treated with the remdesivir recovered after about 11 days, compared with 15 days for patients who received placebo.For patients with severe illness requiring supplemental oxygen, recovery time was 12 days for patients receiving remdesivir, compared with 18 days for patients receiving placebo.

How is remdesivir used?

Remdesivir is used only in hospitals and given directly into a vein once a day for a period of 5 to 10 days.

Before using remdesivir, the doctor responsible for monitoring the person should perform blood tests to make sure that the person does not have conditions that prevent them from using remdesivir safely, such as liver or kidney disease, for example.

Remdesivir use for COVID-19 should always be done under the care of a physician.

Possible side effects

Some side effects that may occur during or shortly after receiving a dose of remdesivir into a vein and that should be reported to your doctor immediately are:

  • Severe headache, with feeling of neck or ears throbbing;
  • Fast, slow or fast heartbeat;
  • breathing or difficulty breathing;
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat;
  • Nausea;
  • Fever, chills or tremors;
  • Body itch;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Sensation of dizziness, as if fainting.

Remdesivir can also damage the liver, so doctors should do liver tests while a person is receiving remdesivir treatment to avoid liver problems.

Who should not use

Remdesivir should not be used by women who are pregnant or of childbearing potential, therefore it is recommended to use effective contraceptive methods during treatment with remdesivir.

This drug should also not be used during breastfeeding, requiring a doctor's assessment of the benefits for the mother of receiving treatment with remdesivir, as it is not yet known whether it passes to the baby through breast milk and the effects that this drug may have on the baby are also not known.

Furthermore, the use of remdesivir is not recommended for people with hepatic or renal impairment, and the doctor must assess whether the benefits to the person outweigh the risks of treatment.

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