Gilead Says Remdesivir Retains Antiviral Activity Against 10 SARS-CoV-2 Variants

The variants include Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron, and the laboratory results are consistent with other analyses.

Gilead Sciences has released data showing the in-vitro activity of remdesivir (Veklury) against 10 SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The results are consistent with other in-vitro studies independently conducted by investigators from institutions in other countries, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

The latest results confirm remdesivir’s antiviral activity against multiple previously identified variants of SARS-CoV-2, including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron.

The Gilead study analyzed in-vitro antiviral activity by 2 methods to understand the susceptibility of 10 major SARS-CoV-2 variants to remdesivir. Additionally, the results showed similar activity of remdesivir against the variants and an early ancestral A lineage isolate detected in Seattle, Washington, known as the WA1 strain.

Specifically, the Delta and Omicron variants both remained fully susceptible to remdesivir, and these laboratory results show that the drug has remained active against all major variants isolated over the past 2 years.

Remdesivir works by directly inhibiting viral replication inside host cells by targeting the SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. When entering the body, the drug is transformed into the active triphosphate metabolite, which is then incorporated into viral RNA and stops replication of the virus within the infected cells.

The investigators analyzed nearly 6 million publicly available variant isolate sequences and confirmed that the nsp12 protein, the target of remdesivir, is highly conserved across all variants.

Additionally, further characterization confirmed that none of the few identified nsp12 mutations prevalent in some of the SARS-CoV-2 variants affects the virus susceptibility to remdesivir.

“These results provide evidence of the consistent and durable antiviral activity of remdesivir across known variants that have emerged throughout the pandemic, including Omicron, and support its continued use for the treatment of COVID-19 for current SARS-CoV-2 variants,” Tomas Cihlar, senior vice president of Virology Research at Gilead Sciences, said in a statement.

“Now with a new version of Omicron (BA.2 subvariant) increasing in circulation around the world, these latest data also suggest that remdesivir will retain antiviral activity against this new subvariant, because the viral RNA polymerase that remdesivir targets does not contain any additional unique mutations. Gilead continuously evaluates the activity of Veklury against viral variants,” Cihlar said.

Investigators submitted the results of this study for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and have been uploaded as preprint at BioRxiv.

Remdesivir is indicated for the treatment of COVID-19 in individuals aged 12 years or older who weigh at least 88.18 pounds, with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing who are hospitalized or not hospitalized and have mild-to-moderate COVID-19 with high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including death and hospitalization.

Furthermore, remdesivir should only be administered in settings where health care providers have immediate access to medication to treat a severe infusion or hypersensitivity reaction, such as anaphylaxis, and the ability to activate the emergency medical system as necessary.

Reference

Veklury (remdesivir) retains antiviral activity against Omicron, Delta and other emergent SARS-CoV-2 variants in multiple in vitro studies. Gilead. News release. February 11, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2022. https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/press-room/press-releases/2022/2/veklury-remdesivir-retains-antiviral-activity-against-omicron-delta-and-other-emergent-sarscov2-variants-in-multiple-in-vitro-studies