UW School of Medicine researchers who participated in a clinical trial are encouraged by data indicating that the trial drug remdesivir can treat COVID-19.
The FDA on May 1 granted emergency use authorization for remdesivir, so that it can be used to treat hospitalized severe COVID-19 patients. Preliminary results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored study showed that patients who took remdesivir—originally tested against Ebola—usually recovered after 11 days, four days faster than those who didn’t take the drug. The UW School of Medicine was one of the sites in the NIH trial.
Dr. Helen Chu, assistant professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, said the drug not only decreased recovery time, it also improved mortality outcomes.
“It’s really a game changer for the field to know first of all having an antiviral drug that works to prevent real clinical outcomes, to improve clinical outcomes is just so important.”
Remdesivir has not been formally approved to treat the virus, and U.S. health officials caution new data on the drug has yet to be peer-reviewed.
Drug maker Gilead said it will be able to produce “several million” rounds of remdesivir next year.
The World Health Organization said on May 4 it will speak with the U.S. government and Gilead on how remdesivir could be made more widely available.