Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief infectious disease expert on the White House working group, said Wednesday that the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir produced by Gilead Sciences would become the standard in the treatment of COVID-19. According to the results of an essential clinical study, doctors concluded that remdesivir helps in the recovery of patients with COVID-19 – a disease caused by the coronavirus, and also reduces the death rate.
Preliminary results of a study conducted by the US authorities show that patients who were given remdesivir recovered 31% faster than patients who were given placebo pills as part of the study. Anthony Fauci called the results “extremely significant.”
“This is very important,” Fauci said, speaking to reporters at the White House and comparing this event to 1986 when doctors first identified a drug that can treat HIV infection.
“This will be the standard of treatment,” Fauci said.
The food and drug administration (FDA) is in talks with the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead, to make it available to patients as soon as possible.
“I want them to do this as soon as possible,” said President Donald Trump, when asked whether the FDA can urgently issue a permit for the use of remdesivir in the treatment of COVID – 19. The President noted that the administration is most concerned about the safety of the drug, but “we would like to get approval very quickly, especially when it comes to a drug that works.”
Anthony Fauci, however, warned that the latest data from clinical trials still need to be carefully analyzed.
Doctors around the world have shown extremely high interest in remdesivir – an experimental antiviral drug that was initially intended to treat Ebola – due to the lack of a standard of therapy and a vaccine against COVID-19, which affects the lungs and other organs in severe cases.
In April, representatives of Gilead said that the company is ready to donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir to hospitals, which is enough for more than 140 thousand patients, depending on the duration of the course of treatment. Approval of the drug by the FDA will allow its commercial sales to begin.
The National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported preliminary results of a clinical trial involving 1,063 patients with COVID-19. Patients who received remdesivir recovered after an average of 11 days, in contrast to patients who were given a placebo: they recovered on average after 15 days.
The study also showed that remdesivir probably improves the survival rates of patients. Among patients who received the drug, 8.0% died from COVID-19. In the placebo group, 11.6% of patients were victims of the disease. However, the difference is not statistically significant, and the increase in survival may not be related to the drug.
The full results of the study will be published in mid-may, the National Institutes of Health told Reuters.