Early results from a Chicago hospital treating patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir for severe cases of COVID-19 as a part of a clinical trial has so far shown that patients are rapidly recovering from fever and respiratory symptoms. Almost all patients treated with the drug are discharged from hospital within a week.
One of the first drugs suspected to treat COVID-19, clinical trials assessing the drug’s potency have been long awaited. Should these positive results be echoed upon the trial’s completion later this month, the drug may see fast approval by the FDA as the first official treatment against the virus.
The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19 to partake in Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. With 113 having severe symptoms of the disease, all patients were treated on a daily basis with remdesivir. Kathleen Mullane, the infectious disease specialists at the university in monitoring the Gilead studies said, “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish.”
With similar trials being run in other institutions around the country, until further results are collected, the initial findings from the study can not be taken as conclusive. Yet, even when the results do emerge, as the study does not contain a control group taking a placebo, it may be difficult to properly assess the efficacy of the drug.
Despite this, medical practitioners and researchers alike remain hopeful. Mullone says “Certainly when we start [the] drug, we see fever curves falling...Fever is now not a requirement for people to go on trial, we do see when patients do come in with high fevers, they do [reduce] quite quickly. We have seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. So, in that realm, overall our patients have done very well.”
“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. We have very few that went out to 10 days, maybe three.”