Early Results in Remdesivir Trial Find Drug Shortens Coronavirus Recovery Times

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover," Dr. Anthony Fauci said

Vials of the drug Remdesivir . Photo: ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty

A clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Health found that the drug remdesivir may help coronavirus patients recover faster.

A Wednesday news release from the NIH said hospitalized patients with “advanced” COVID-19 who received the drug recovered 31 percent faster than those who received a placebo.

The early results for the trial, which has yet to be peer reviewed, also indicate a survival benefit — the mortality rate for the group receiving remdesivir was 8 percent compared to 11.6 percent for the placebo group.

The FDA plans to announce an emergency use authorization for the drug, The New York Times reported. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the drug seems to meet the standards for emergency use.

“As I noted on April 16, the emergency use authorization would allow commercial distribution of Remdesivir so more critically ill patients could get access now,” he wrote on Twitter. “Remdesivir would appear to meet or exceed standard for authorization under EUA, especially relative to other EUAs issued.”

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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the remdesivir clinical trial alongside President Trump during a meeting at the White House Wednesday.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover," Fauci told reporters.

“Although a 31 percent improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” he added. “This is very optimistic.”

“It’s a very positive event,” Trump said.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug from manufacturing company Gilead, was initially developed to fight ebola but was ineffective and has not been approved as treatment for any disease.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci meets with Donald Trump and other officials at the White House on April 29, 2020. Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty

Following the news from the NIH, The Lancet published an unfinished China-based study that found remdesivir had no benefits to coronavirus patients compared to placebo.

“Unfortunately, our trial found that while safe and adequately tolerated, remdesivir did not provide significant benefits over placebo,” the lead investigator of the study, Dr. Bin Cao of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in Beijing, told The New York Times.

In a press release, Gilead’s Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey said there are multiple studies evaluating remdesivir and its best use.

“Unlike traditional drug development, we are attempting to evaluate an investigational agent alongside an evolving global pandemic. Multiple concurrent studies are helping inform whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 and how to best utilize the drug,” Parsey said.

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