In-Talk : Can remdesivir drug really cure coronavirus?

The race is on to find a drug that is both effective and safe for treating COVID-19, which has spread to more than 3.1 million people and caused 220,000 deaths worldwide.

This week, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released findings of a clinical trial of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir. This showed COVID-19 patients recovered more quickly and had an improved survival rate when taking the drug, compared with those given a placebo and standard care. Interestingly, the anti-viral was earlier trialed to treat hepatitis and Ebola, but failed in a number of real-life tests.

A recent clinical trial showed the drug helped shorten the recovery time for people who were seriously ill. However, it did not significantly improve survival rates.

Adult patients hospitalised with COVID-19 were given daily injections of remdesivir. They were found to recover four days faster, an improvement of 31%, when compared with other patients who only received standard care and placebo.

The results also indicated that more patients survived the infection with remdesivir treatment, with the death rate dropping from 11.6% to 8%.

The results are significant enough that director of NIAID Anthony Fauci said it was an “ethical responsibility” for the remaining trial patients who were taking the placebo to be switched to the active drug.

But we need to treat the results of this trial with caution; for the moment they are only preliminary.

The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised emergency use of the Ebola drug remdesivir for treating the coronavirus. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn also said at the meeting: “It’s the first authorised therapy for Covid-19, so we’re really proud to be part of it.” Emergency FDA authorisation is not the same as formal approval, which requires a higher level of review.

India to try 1000 doses Remdesivir to treat coronavirus

India is part of the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Trials for the cure of Covid-19 and has received 1000 doses of the drug for testing. Gilead Sciences has a patent on the drug but patent laws allow for the drug to be developed solely for research purposes and not for commercial manufacturing.

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