Antiviral remdesivir appears safe for ill children

The antiviral drug remdesivir appears to be as safe and effective for use in children with COVID-19 as in adults, according to the largest study to date of children with severe COVID-19 who received the drug.

Remdesivir, sold by Gilead Sciences Inc under the brand name Veklury, shortens time to recovery in adults with COVID-19. It is not yet approved for children under age 12. In March 2020, Gilead began accepting doctors’ requests for compassionate use of remdesivir in critically ill children with COVID-19.

In the new study of 77 children in the United States, U.K., Italy and Spain, “remdesivir was well tolerated, with a low incidence of serious adverse events,” related to the drug, researchers reported on Wednesday in Pediatrics.

Within four weeks of starting treatment, 88% of the children had decreased need for oxygen support, 83% had recovered and 73% were discharged. Among those requiring mechanical ventilation, 90% were able to be taken off the ventilators.

A randomized controlled trial is underway to confirm that the high level of recovery was due to the effects of remdesivir, the researchers said. An editorial published with the study said: “Although morbidity and mortality rates differ, children hospitalized with acute COVID-19 often have a similar disease course as adults.

Children are also likely to have a similar response to remdesivir as adults.”


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