Everything You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus Treatment

Dr. Anthony Fauci is lauding remdesivir, saying it proves "that a drug can block this virus."

There has been a serious dearth of good and encouraging news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. But newly released results from clinical trials of remdesivir might just be the good news we've been looking for. Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug produced by American biotech company Gilead, and Anthony Fauci, MD, head epidemiologist of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, says that remdesevir "has proven … that a drug can block this virus." Here's what we know about remdesivir so far. And for more about cures that do not work, These Are the Bogus COVID-19 Cures You Need to Ignore Right Now.

Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed remarkable optimism about remdesivir.

fauci talks about remdesivir in interview on april 29

In a press briefing on Apr. 29, Fauci highlighted the effectiveness of remdesivir in treating those with the coronavirus, calling it "quite good news." In a study from the National Institutes of Health, the mortality rate was 8 percent for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6 percent for the placebo group. Fauci revealed that "the data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."

"This is really quite important for a number of reasons," he added. "What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus. … This is very optimistic."

The FDA is reportedly set to allow emergency use of remdesivir.

pill of remdesivir

According to The New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intends to announce "as early as Wednesday" that remdesivir is authorized for emergency use to treat patients with COVID-19, citing a senior administration official as a source.

Remdesivir is produced by well-established biotech company Gilead.

gilead sign

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead, an American biotechnology company founded in 1987 that specializes in the research, development, and commercialization of antiviral drugs. The company has successfully developed effective treatments used to battle or maintain the health of those with HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and influenza.

Clinical trials of remdesivir began in February.

Medical team

In an open letter on the company website on Apr. 10, Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day wrote: "It has been only two months since the first clinical trials began. Given that it can take a year or more to have the first clinical data for an investigational treatment, it is remarkable that we expect to have the first remdesivir trial data so soon."

And there are seven remdesivir trials going on right now to expedite testing.

hands of tech doing testing

O'Day added that "seven clinical trials have been initiated to determine whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19."

In one trial at the University of Chicago Medical Center, 125 people with COVID-19 were treated with remdesivir, 113 of whom had severe cases. Kathleen Mullane, DO, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital, told StatNews, "Most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We've only had two patients perish."

But, shortly thereafter, according to an exclusive report by The Financial Times, remdesivir flopped in its first randomized clinical trial, "disappointing scientists and investors who had high hopes for remdesivir."

Remdesivir was first created to treat the Ebola virus.

Ebola sign in Africa

Gilead initially created remdesivir as a treatment for the West African outbreak of the Ebola virus. But clinical trials revealed that remdesivir was not nearly as effective as other drugs, and it was eventually dropped as an Ebola therapy. And for more on other pandemics, check out How Does Coronavirus Stack Up Compared to Other Pandemics?

Remdesivir is still in an experimental stage and not approved yet globally for use.

young female doctor in lab coat looks at scans

While the news about remdesivir is very encouraging, it is still early in a traditionally complicated process. In his open letter, O'Day wrote: "Remdesivir is an investigational treatment and has not been approved for use anywhere in the world. In the broader efforts to determine whether it is a safe and effective treatment, we have some way to go." And for more answers to your COVID-19 FAQs, check out 13 Common Coronavirus Questions—Answered by Experts.


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