An experimental drug has proven effective in treating COVID-19 patients, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced Wednesday.
“Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Fauci told reporters in the White House Oval Office. “A drug can block this virus.”
An international randomized placebo control trial at his institute started February 21 with hundreds of hospitalized coronavirus patients, Fauci said.
Recovery time was 11 days for those given the drug compared with 15 days for patients given a placebo, according to the NIAID and its parent agency, the National Institutes of Health.
“Whenever you have clear-cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people who are in the placebo group know so that they can have access, and all of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care,” Fauci told reporters.
Remdesivir, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, is given intravenously and designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.
In animal tests against severe acute respiratory syndrome(SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, it has helped prevent infection and reduced severity of symptoms. But it is not yet approved anywhere in the world for any use.