A clinical trial investigating the ability of antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 has found that it can significantly shorten recovery times from infection. The US Food and Drug Administration thus plans on approving the drug for emergency use against the virus next week.
In recent weeks, conflicting information about the efficacy of remdesivir has left many confused about its potential usage. Amid the rush to find a treatment for COVID-19, small, clinical trials have sprung up in many corners of the world, usually without control groups or adequate research settings. Usually boasting positive results for the drug, as most tend to recover from the virus anyway, many were frustrated by the lack of precision in the studies.
In light of a new clinical trial conducted by the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) however, the state of confusion and frustration around remdesivir may no longer be necessary.
Although full details from the trial have not yet been published, experts have said that the findings would be a ‘fantastic result’ if and when confirmed. Involving around 1,090 people across different hospitals around the world, Dr Anthony Fauci, head of NIAID, called it the first ‘truly high-powered randomized placebo controlled trial’ of the drug.
While the study did not prove remdesivir to be a ‘magic bullet’, it did find that recovery time for patients using the drug was reduced from 15 to 11 days on average, something that could significantly reduce burden on hospitals. The results also suggested that those using the drug had better chances of survival. While the mortality rate for those receiving the drug was 8%, it was 11.6% for those in the placebo group.
Even before the announcement of these results, remdesivir’s manufacturer, Gilead, began to ramp up production of the drug. Streamlining their manufacturing processes, the company announced that it should be able to treat over a million people by the end of the year with the drug. Based on the assumption of a 10-day treatment, new findings suggest that a 5-day course may be just as effective in treating those with COVID-19, meaning the drug manufacturer may be able to double its original projected reach.