Two-Thirds of COVID Patients Using Remdesivir Faced Side Effects in New Study

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When remdesivir received emergency approval for COVID-19, real-world safety data took a backseat. A new study changes that.

A new study found that 66% of COVID-19 patients treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir experienced at least one adverse effect, with 14% having a severe adverse effect.

new multicenter study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science aimed to estimate the rate of adverse drug events (ADEs) experienced by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients using the antiviral medication remdesivir.1 Approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, remdesivir is believed to work by blocking viral replication.2 Previous clinical trials reported that remdesivir improved recovery times with mostly mild side effects.3,4 However, those studies had strict exclusion criteria, leaving open questions around its safety in real-world populations.1

This retrospective study reviewed the medical records of 2,140 hospitalized Korean COVID-19 patients treated with remdesivir in 2021. The research team recorded any ADEs that could be objectively identified from lab tests, including liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, anemia, electrolyte imbalances, and allergic reactions requiring treatment. They used a standard classification system to categorize ADE severity, with "severe" being grade 3 or higher.1

Overall, a concerning 66% of remdesivir recipients experienced at least one ADE. Out of those, 14% were considered severe. The most common ADEs were liver injury (43%) and anemia (28%). Around 18% developed low potassium levels (hypokalemia), 17% of which were severe cases. None of the ADEs directly caused death.1

People with pre-existing kidney impairment faced higher rates of severe ADEs compared to those with normal kidney function (41% vs. 16%, p<0.001). Anemia, low potassium, and low platelet counts were the most common severe effects in that group. There was no statistically significant difference in ADE rates between people with versus without liver impairment at baseline. The study also could not conclude definitively whether remdesivir increased ADE risk in pregnant women, although they exhibited a concerning trend (14% vs. 5% in controls).1

The researchers concluded that remdesivir treatment carries a risk of ADEs for a significant proportion of real-world COVID-19 patients. They advised careful monitoring for those with kidney dysfunction in particular.1

These findings matter because remdesivir is currently standard-of-care for hospitalized patients at risk of severe COVID-19.5 However, safer natural alternatives likely exist. For example, the spice turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which research shows inhibits SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses.6 Garlic, olive leaf, and elderberry also have antiviral and immune-boosting properties.7 While more research is needed, these time-tested herbs and spices may provide COVID-19 relief without the potentially serious toxicities of remdesivir observed in this study.

We recently reported on the following remarkable outcomes for natural approaches in those diagnosed with Covid-19 infection, further illustrating the point that safe, natural, easily accessible and effective alternatives to these drugs exist: 

Learn about natural approaches to Coronavirus infection here.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON 'GERM THEORY' AND COVID-19: Discussion of COVID-19 and infectious disease often comes with a wide range of unexamined assumptions, including the presumed lethality of viral particles, or even that viruses per se exist as classically defined by virologists. This is not something that should go without discussion and debate, as the topic deserves a much deeper exploration than is presently being conducted by the mainstream media and conventional medical authorities. In order to rectify this conspicuous lacunae, Sayer Ji has presented an alternative perspective which calls into question conventional models of infectious disease and contagion attributed to viruses, replacing it with what he calls the Xenogen Hypothesis. Learn more by watching his two presentations on the topic. 1) Covid-19: is it really about a virus? And 2) A New Biophysical Paradigm: Viruses, Exosomes, & Infection with Sayer Ji


1. Kang, H. et al. (2023). Adverse drug events associated with remdesivir in real-world hospitalized patients with COVID-19, including vulnerable populations: a retrospective multicenter study. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 38(44).

2. Eastman, R.T. et al. (2020). Remdesivir: A review of its discovery and development leading to emergency use authorization for treatment of COVID-19. ACS Central Science, 6(5), 672-683.

3. Beigel, J.H. et al. (2020). Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 -- Final report. The New England Journal of Medicine, 383(19), 1813-1826.

4. Goldman, J.D. et al. (2020). Remdesivir for 5 or 10 Days in Patients with Severe Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine, 383(19), 1827-1837.

5. COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel. (2022). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment guidelines.

6. Aanouz, I. et al. (2020). Moroccan medicinal plants as inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 main protease: Computational investigations. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 1-12.

7. Fatima, H. & Nayab, H. (2020). How diet can aid in COVID-19 diagnosis, prevention and treatment: A nutraceutical approach. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 1-10.

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