National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on Wednesday that patients with advanced COVID-19 who received the experimental drug remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received placebo.
Dr. Anthony Fauci,the institute’s director, called it “the first truly high-powered randomised placebo-controlled trial”, reporting that data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.About 1,090 people participated in the trial internationally.
Preliminary data show remdesivir has improved recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days.
“Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is a very important proof of concept,” Fauci said, “because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”
He said the results are “opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating” coronavirus.
Fauci also said the US Food and Drug Administration is working with Gilead Sciences, the maker of remdesivir, to make the drug available to those who need it.
Though FDA is yet to approve any drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus but is trying to increase the availability of remdesivir, by engaging in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences, FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in a statement.
The World Health Organization said it’s too early to comment on the remdesivir trial results released yesterday.
“Typically, you don’t have one study that will come out that will be a game-changer,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus response.
She said the agency generally pulls together evidence from several studies before reviewing and critiquing the evidence.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program said, it can sometimes take a number of publications to determine (what) the ultimate impact of a drug is.