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Remdesivir-Linked Covid-19 Mutation Found In Immunocompromised Patient, Researchers Say

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Coronavirus mutations which exhibit resistance to the antiviral drug remdesivir were detected in an immunocompromised patient who had previously been treated with the drug, researchers have found, raising concerns about the possible emergence of more drug resistant versions of Covid-19 in patients who face persistent illness.

Key Facts

In a preprint study published on Medrxiv, researchers found that a woman in her 70s who had been treated with the drug had failed to completely clear her Covid-19 infection for several months.

A genetic examination of the virus showed that it had mutated during treatment in a manner that reduced the effectiveness of the antiviral drug, manufactured by Gilead.

According to Professor Akiko Iwasaki, one of the study’s authors, remdesivir initially brought the patient’s viral load down but it rose again during the course of the remdesivir treatment.

The persistent infection was eventually successfully treated using monoclonal antibodies, according to the study.

The woman who exhibited the mutation was immunocompromised as she had previously been treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Crucial Quote

“This case illustrates the importance of monitoring for remdesivir resistance and the potential benefit of combinatorial therapies in immunocompromised patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the study’s authors wrote in the preprint.

Big Number

0.003%. That’s the percentage of cases from 4.1 million genome sequences obtained from patients which showed the mutation, Prof. Iwasaki tweeted, indicating that such cases were still incredibly rare.

Key Background

The Gilead Sciences developed Remdesivir was among the first drugs approved for use in hospitals to treat Covid-19. The intravenous drug has been administered to hospitalized patients with moderate Covid-19 symptoms although its effectiveness has not fully been established. Back in November 2020, the World Health Organization recommended against the use of the drug in Covid-19 patients, noting that there was no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes.

Further Reading

Mutation Linked to Remdesivir Resistance Found in Covid Patient (Bloomberg)

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