Alright, here we go! You may (or may not) remember that on August 4 some brilliant scientists created a “live meta-analysis” for COVID19 drug treatments. They basically want to know which drugs are effective and not effective. Well, their findings have been updated!!
What is a meta-analysis? One massive study that combines the results of ALL previous studies. This is a really powerful tool because it takes into account whether past studies were “strong” or “weak”. It also takes into account different populations (think different genes, different environments, different cultures, different confounders). Basically, this allows us to get an overarching idea of what is working and what is not working. This meta-analysis ONLY includes RCTs- the gold standard for epidemiological drug studies.
What is a “live” meta analysis? The scientists proposed that as new studies come in, their meta-analysis would be automatically updated. This has NEVER been done before (but is such a brilliant idea). AND they updated their analysis for the first time!
What is new in this update? They added 12 new randomized control trials (RCTs) from the last iteration, making the total number of pooled studies= 27 (which is 11,006 people).
Did this update change our understanding of anything? No. It’s “only” strengthened our understanding of effective (and not effective) drugs:
- Glucocorticoids was the ONLY intervention that reduced mortality and the need for mechanical ventilation
- Remdesivir reduces duration of symptoms and probably does not increase adverse effects
- Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce risk of death or mechanical ventilation (is this still a point of contention?)
This live meta-analysis will continue to update for 2 years. And there are already 6 new RCT’s in queue for the next iteration.
They have an interactive tool on the website, that I highly suggest playing around with too!
Data source: https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2980