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We still don't know the true effectiveness of remdesivir. Photo: Ulrich Perrey/AFP via Getty Images

Depending on the study, remdesivir is either a clinical failure or a godsend for treating the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: The grim reality of the coronavirus pandemic has the world itching to know which experimental treatments actually work, but we're not necessarily getting any smarter from these incremental drips of incomplete information.

Driving the news: Remdesivir — an antiviral drug that some experts have seen as a promising coronavirus treatment — "was not associated with clinical or virological benefits" for coronavirus patients, according to a summary of a clinical trial in China, viewed by STAT and the Financial Times.

Between the lines: The truth is, we still don't really know how effective the drug is in fighting this virus.

  • The Chinese trial has a randomized control group, so it is by far the most reliable study. However, the trial has not gone through peer review, and Gilead said the results were "inconclusive" because the trial had to be terminated early.
  • The University of Chicago study and a Gilead-sponsored compassionate use study, which prompted rosier views of the drug, are riddled with flaws that make them hard to rely on. The most obvious drawback in both is the lack of a control group.

The bottom line: Science is slow for a reason, and the deluge of poorly designed trials and early drafts of studies is sowing confusion instead of creating clarity.

  • "The world is, unfortunately, getting a crash course in the value of evidence-based medicine vs. anecdote," veteran pharmaceutical analyst Brian Skorney tweeted.

What's next: A more rigorous report from Gilead's Chinese trial is expected at the end of this month, and data from other trials is expected in late May. Don't jump to any firm conclusions before that happens.

Go deeper: The high stakes of low scientific standards

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

Trump says Fauci is "wrong" about coronavirus cases surge

President Trump and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci during an April daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump called out Anthony Fauci Saturday in a comment retweeting a video of the NIAID director explaining why coronavirus cases have been surging in the U.S.

Driving the news: In the video of Friday's testimony, Fauci explained that while European countries shut 95% of their economies, the U.S. "functionally shut down only about 50%." Trump responded, "Wrong! We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000.