Medical researchers around the world are working around the clock to find a cure for the deadly COVID-19 virus that has sickened millions and killed tens of thousands of people. While we’re still over a year away from a vaccine hitting the market, one drug is showing a lot of promise in early trials. Doctors are hoping Gilead Science’s antiviral drug Remdesivir can help them in their all-out fight against coronavirus.
What is Remdesivir?
Remdesivir was initially developed by Gilead Science to treat the Ebola virus, but did not prove to be very successful. However, multiple studies in animals showed Remdesivir could prevent and treat coronaviruses related to COVID-19, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS.) In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the drug showed great potential in treating COVID-19.
How Remdesivir is being used to treat coronavirus patients
Coronavirus patients are being given this experimental drug and it appears to be working at a phenomenal rate. STAT News reports COVID-19 patients have been recovering quickly, with most going home from the hospital within days. The patients taking part in this clinical trial of Remdesivir have all had severe respiratory symptoms, and fever, but were able to leave the hospital after less than a week of treatment according to Dr. Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago, who is leading the clinical trial. In a video obtained by STAT News, Dr. Mullane said “The best news is that our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish.” Dr. Mullane is quoted in the video as saying “Most of our patients are severe and most of them are leaving at six days, so that tells us duration of therapy doesn’t have to be 10 days.”
The fine print
It’s critically important to note Remdesivir can not prevent contracting coronavirus, it may only shorten the length of time patients require hospitalization. This experimental drug trial does not include what’s known as a control group, meaning everyone is getting a dose of Remdesivir instead of a select few. This will be difficult to say whether the drug is truly helping patients recover better and quicker. CNN reports trials of Remdesivir are ongoing at dozens of more than 100 clinical centers. Gilead is sponsoring tests of the drug in 2,400 with severe coronavirus symptoms in 152 trial sites around the world. Gilead is also testing the drug in 1,600 patients with moderate symptoms at 169 hospitals and clinics around the world. The drug maker is expected to have the results of the widespread trial by the end of April.
While Remdesivir is one of several drugs being tested in hopes of finding a cure to coronavirus, we can do our parts to stop the community spread of the deadly virus. We can still practice proper social distancing, wearing cloth masks while outdoors, washing our hands for at least 20 seconds frequently throughout the day, limiting contact with people outside our home, like food delivery drivers. COVID-19 will still be part of our everyday lives for quite some time so it’s important to stay informed on the latest developments. AccuWeather has everything you need to know about COVID-19, including an interactive map to see where new cases are popping up, a tracker showing how many people are recovering, and in-depth podcast talking about how weather can impact coronavirus.