Coronavirus treatment: Gilead says early trial results of remdesivir show improvement with shorter drug treatment
Last week, we told you about the disappointing news of the promising Ebola drug remdesivir after Financial Times reported the drug did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the coronavirus pathogen in their bloodstream. The paper cited documents accidentally published by the World Organization.
Now, we have some positive news as Gilead lifts hope for coronavirus treatment. Gilead Sciences said this morning that preliminary results of a coronavirus drug trial showed at least 50% of patients treated with a 5-day dosage of antiviral drug remdesivir improved and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks. The clinical trial involved patients with severe cases of Covid-19. The severe study is “single-arm,” meaning it did not evaluate the drug against a control group of patients who didn’t receive the drug.
The study tracked two groups of patients who were hospitalized with Covid-19. One group received a 5-day treatment of remdesivir, while the other group took the drug for 10 days. The researchers said more than half of the patients in both treatment groups were discharged from the hospital within 14 days. They said 64.5% of the patients who received the shorter treatment course were discharged, compared with 53.8% of the group who were treated for 10 days.
Remdesivir is an ebola drug developed by Gilead Sciences that was found to be ineffective is now being tested in two phase III randomised clinical trials in Asian countries. The trials are being performed on 761 patients in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study at multiple hospitals in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The results from the trials are expected to be available over the next few weeks.
Remdesivir has an antiviral activity that inhibits viral replication through premature termination of RNA transcription and has in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 and in-vitro and in-vivo activity against related betacoronaviruses. In early April, seven clinical trials were initiated to determine whether remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19.
“These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course,” said Aruna Subramanian, a lead investigator of the study.
There are no proven treatments for Covid-19, which has infected more than 3 million people worldwide and killed at least 217,569 as of Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. U.S. health officials say producing a vaccine to prevent the disease will take at least 12 to 18 months, making finding an effective drug treatment soon even more crucial.
There a number of ongoing studies testing Gilead’s remdesivir to see if it’s effective in stopping the coronavirus from replicating.