Dr. Fauci Sounds Hopeful about a New COVID-19 Treatment

The experimental drug remdesivir showed promising results in a clinical trial conducted at Mass General and 50 other sites nationwide.

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As hard as it is to remain optimistic these days, maybe you can let this little bit of good news be your sliver of hope today. The experimental drug remdesivir has proven to be a promising coronavirus treatment in a double blind clinical trial conducted at Mass General Hospital and 50 other sites nationwide. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the man who has become the face of the public health response on the virus, sounds hopeful—which is encouraging, since NIAID ran the study.

The drug was created by the California-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead. When it was given to patients with a severe case of COVID-19, where the patient had reduced oxygen levels but was not yet relying on a ventilator, the patients recovered faster than those patients who were given a placebo. Preliminary data indicates that it took patients 11 days to recover on remdesivir, while it took patients on the placebo 15 days to recover. The rate of mortality was also lower for remdesivir patients, where it was 8 percent, as compared to nearly 12 percent for the placebo group. Two treatment courses were tested, both a five-day and 10-day, and the data disclosed Wednesday is from 397 patients receiving the drug, compared to 800 who received the placebo. The two durations of treatment appeared to be basically the same.

Dr. Fauci said during a briefing on Wednesday at the White House that this is “quite good news” and he predicts the drug “will be the standard of care” for COVID-19 moving forward.

Right now, the drug is not yet approved anywhere globally, but the New York Times has reported the Food and Drug Administration has plans to announce the emergency use of remdesivir. It will only be available for patients who are hospitalized, as it has to be given intravenously. The study still needs to be peer-reviewed. Additionally, in a different study conducted in China, the drug didn’t appear to have an effect on quicker recovery times. Gilead scientists believe this could be from a suspension of the study due to not enough patients enrolled, Time reports. The speedy recovery time is seen as the main positive here, though, and could improve the mortality rate while hypothetically lessening the strain on hospitals when space is limited.

According to Gilead, remdesivir was originally designed to treat Ebola, but lab studies have proven it to be a successful agent against other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS.

Although the results of this study are ongoing and continue to be evaluated, with no current approved treatment for the coronavirus, it’s hopeful news. And we could all use a little more of that.