US approves experimental drug remdesivir for emergency use to treat coronavirus patients
United States President Donald Trump on Friday announced that the experimental drug remdesivir has now been authorized for coronavirus patients. The decision comes at the wake of the recovery time getting shortened during the antiviral's clinical trial among some COVID-19 patients. The drug developed by Gilead Sciences is the first for any medicine to prove beneficial against the disease. Joining Trump, Gilead's CEO Daniel O'Day in a statement said, "It is really a really promising situation. We are humbled with this first step for hospitalized patients. We want to make sure nothing gets in the way of these patients getting the medicine."
Gilead had earlier announced that they would be donating nearly 1.5 million of the doses of the drug for free, which amounts to around 140,000 treatment courses, which would be administered on a cycle for about 10 days duration. Administered using an injection, remdesivir was already available to some patients who had signed up for clinical trials or on the basis of a "compassionate use". With the drug now getting an approval, its distribution will be more wide for adults and children who have been facing severe symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. As per the mandate issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who approved remdesivir, they have defined "severe" symptoms to be as low blood oxygen levels, requiring oxygen therapy, or being on a ventilator.
Results of a trial involving over 1,000 patients was announced on Wednesday by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who in their findings said that patients hospitalized for COVID-19 with respiratory problems, were showing signs of getting better and in a quicker manner in comparison to those who were on a placebo. In particular, they noted that the drug was showing results of 31 percent faster recovery.
NIAID's lead scientist Anthony Fauci told, "Although the results were clearly positive from a statistically significant standpoint, they were modest,". According to Fauci, remdesivir's initial trials have shown that there is "proof of concept" that it could lead to better treatments although it cannot be considered a complete cure as yet. Remdesivir incorporates itself into the virus's genome, short circuiting its replication process and was developed initially for treating Ebola.
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