Health officials ‘strongly’ advise against two COVID-19 treatments

Global health authorities have issued “strong” recommendations for the use of two antibody therapies for COVID-19 patients, overriding previous conditional recommendations that supported their use.

The recommendations for the use of two treatments, sotrovimab and casilibimab-imdevimab, were made as part of an update to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) so-called “lifestyle guidelines” for drugs to treat COVID-19. Published in British Journal of Medicine (BMJ).

Two drugs developed early in the pandemic work by binding to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and neutralizing the virus’ ability to infect cells. However, recent evidence indicates that sotrovimab and casilibimab-imdevimab are unlikely to be effective against the currently circulating COVID-19 variant.

“Today’s strong recommendations supersede previous recommendations for conditional use, and laboratory studies show that these drugs are unlikely to work against variants such as the currently prevalent Omicron. It is based on new evidence from BMJ,” the BMJ said in a statement.

The recommendation against using the two treatments in COVID-19 patients was made by the WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts.

“After considering all the evidence, the panel determined that almost all well-informed patients would not choose to receive sotrovimab or casilibimab-imdevimab,” the BMJ said.

Penny Ward, a visiting professor of pharmacy at King’s College London, told Reuters, given that U.S. health regulators began questioning the efficacy of sotrovimab in February and withdrew it from the U.S. market in April. said the WHO’s recommendations were far behind.

“Now the WHO has issued this recommendation. It will be interesting to see if many other countries agree with it,” she told the outlet.

In January, the FDA revised its policy on the use of casilibimab-imdevimab, citing findings showing it to be less effective than Omicron, limiting its use to a small group of patients.

European regulators continue to recommend the use of both treatments.

remdesivir in crosshairs

In an update to the same guidelines, the WHO panel recommended against using the antibody therapeutic remdesivir in patients with severe cases of COVID-19. At the same time, they conditionally recommended the use of remdesivir in cases of severe infection with the virus.

“The new trial data provided sufficiently reliable evidence of benefit in patients with severe, but not severe, COVID-19,” BMJ said.

The recommendation not to use remdesivir for severe COVID-19 infection is based on a randomized trial involving more than 7,000 patients. The study found that he had 34 more deaths per 1,000 patients with severe cases of COVID-19 when remdesivir was administered. In contrast, the trial showed he had 13 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients when the drug was administered to patients with only severe infections.

Meanwhile, three California hospitals face lawsuits for treating COVID-19 patients with remdesivir without informed consent.

Lawsuits were filed on behalf of more than a dozen families alleging that the hospital engaged in medical deception and failed to provide informed consent regarding potential side effects such as kidney failure.

Tom Ozimek


Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard comes from Roy his Peter Clark.