Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19: a living systematic review
Verdugo-Paiva, Francisca et al.
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Objective: Provide a timely, rigorous and continuously updated summary of the evidence on the role of remdesivir in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Methods: Eligible studies were randomized trials evaluating the effect of remdesivir versus placebo or no treatment. We conducted searches in the special L·OVE (Living OVerview of Evidence) platform for COVID-19, a system that performs regular searches in databases, trial registries, preprint servers and websites relevant to COVID-19. All the searches covered the period until 25 August 2020. No date or language restrictions were applied. Two reviewers independently evaluated potentially eligible studies according to predefined selection criteria, and extracted data on study characteristics, methods, outcomes, and risk of bias, using a predesigned, standardized form. We performed meta-analyses using random-effect models and assessed overall certainty in evidence using the GRADE approach. A living, web-based version of this review will be openly available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: Our search strategy yielded 574 references. Finally, we included three randomized trials evaluating remdesivir in addition to standard care versus standard care alone. The evidence is very uncertain about the effect of remdesivir on mortality (RR 0.7, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.05; very low certainty evidence) and the need for invasive mechanical ventilation (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.24; very low certainty evidence). On the other hand, remdesivir likely results in a large increase in the incidence of adverse effects in patients with COVID-19 (RR 1.29, 95% CI 0.58 to 2.84; moderate certainty evidence). Conclusions: The evidence is insufficient for the outcomes critical for making decisions on the role of remdesivir in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, so it is impossible to balance potential benefits, if there are any, with the adverse effects and costs.