Experimental Drug Results Show Rapid Recovery in Severe COVID-19 Cases


A breakthrough in the hunt for COVID-19 medication might soon be on the horizon.

According to STAT, the experimental drug remdesivir is seeing positive results in the early stages of its study, initiated by Gilead Sciences Inc., which saw its shares surge by 16 percent on April 16 due to hopeful investors.

(For the latest COVID-19 cases, check out our reportr COVID-19 case tracker link.)

Leaked data from the University of Chicago (UC), one of the 153 locations participating in Gilead’s trial for remdesivir on severe cases of COVID-19, reported that the antiviral medication has caused rapid recovery in fever and breathing symptoms in almost all the patients participating in UC’s clinical trials.

Many have been discharged in less than a week, which is notable considering that the treatment program is approximately five to 10 days. Of the 113 severe COVID-19 patients taking the experimental drug, many have been allowed to go home and only two severe cases have died.

There are currently 2,400 patients around the world in 152 locations participating in Gilead’s trial for remdesivir on severe cases. Meanwhile, there are 1,600 patients with moderate cases in 169 locations involved in Gilead’s trial for remdesivir on moderate cases.

"Most of our patients are severe and most of them are leaving at six days, so that tells us the duration of therapy doesn't have to be 10 days," said Dr. Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist at the UC who is leading the clinical trial.

Remdesivir is not new to the scientific community. News of the experimental antiviral candidate has been circulating for years in its trials on coronaviruses like SARS and MERS and even Ebola. But it looks like COVID-19 might be the breakthrough for remdesivir and vice versa.


“There’s only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy,” Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization said in February. “And that’s remdesivir.”

Only Partial Data

While the results of the study prove to be promising, Gilead and UC emphasize that these are only partial results in the early part of the study. The two groups warn against taking these initial results as the official results as the data still need to be analyzed in its entirety. Without complete data, there is no information to draw a scientific conclusion.

One challenge of the study is that it’s a “single arm” study, meaning that there is no control group or placebo group to compare the results to confirm whether the drug is taking effect.

So while the drug is helping patients with severe cases of COVID-19 recover from the disease, it’s too early to conclude that the drug is indeed successful, especially since it hasn’t been cleared by the U.S.’ Food and Drug Administration.

But considering the number of lives it’s saved so far, the experimental drug has succeeded in one thing: giving us hope that the end is in sight.

For the latest COVID-19 cases, check out our reportr COVID-19 case tracker link.

For the latest news and updates on COVID-19, check out reportr.world/covid-19.

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Anri Ichimura
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