Background: Few treatments exist for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness and harms of remdesivir for COVID-19.
Data sources: Several databases, tables of contents of journals, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration and company websites were searched from 1 January through 31 August 2020.
Study selection: English-language, randomized trials of remdesivir treatments for adults with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. New evidence will be incorporated using living review methods.
Data extraction: Single-reviewer abstraction and risk-of-bias assessment verified by a second reviewer; GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) methods used for certainty-of-evidence assessments.
Data synthesis: Four randomized trials were included. In adults with severe COVID-19, remdesivir compared with placebo probably improves recovery by a large amount (absolute risk difference [ARD] range, 7% to 10%) and may result in a small reduction in mortality (ARD range, -4% to 1%) and a shorter time to recovery or clinical improvement. Remdesivir may have little to no effect on hospital length of stay. Remdesivir probably reduces serious adverse events by a moderate amount (ARD range, -6% to -8%). Compared with a 10-day remdesivir course, a 5-day course may reduce mortality, increase recovery or clinical improvement by small to moderate amounts, reduce time to recovery, and reduce serious adverse events among hospitalized patients not requiring mechanical ventilation. Recovery due to remdesivir may not vary by age, sex, symptom duration, or disease severity.
Limitations: Low-certainty evidence with few published trials, including 1 preliminary report and 2 open-label trials. Trials excluded pregnant women and adults with severe kidney or liver disease.
Conclusion: In hospitalized adults with COVID-19, remdesivir probably improves recovery and reduces serious adverse events and may reduce mortality and time to clinical improvement. For adults not receiving mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a 5-day course of remdesivir may provide similar benefits to and fewer harms than a 10-day course.
Primary funding source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration Office of Research and Development, Health Services Research and Development Service, and Evidence Synthesis Program.