The phase three clinical trial of the antiviral drug Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 patients has shown positive results, a United States pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences said. The trial is led by a group of researchers, including Indian-American physician Aruna Subramanian.
Results from the trial have shown that Remdesivir cut the duration of symptoms from 15 days down to 11 days.
"These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of Remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course," Subramanian, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Chief, Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine, and one of the lead investigators of the study, was quoted by IndiaToday.
"While additional data are still needed, these results help to bring a clearer understanding of how treatment with Remdesivir may be optimised, if proven safe and effective," Subramanian added.
Remdesivir is an experimental, broad-spectrum antiviral drug made by US pharmaceutical Gilead Sciences and was first developed to treat Ebola. The drug attacks an enzyme that a virus needs to replicate itself inside our cells.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducted trial runs on 1,063 people of which some patients were given the drug while others received a placebo treatment.
The results showed that those took the drug recovered about 30 per cent faster than those on a placebo. In addition, the mortality rate was 8 per cent in people given Remdesivir and 11.6 per cent in those given a placebo.
"The data shows Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Dr Anthony Fauci, who leads the NIAID, told reporters at the White House.
"Although a 31 per cent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100 per cent, it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," he said.
However, the full details have not been published yet. Only then can the drug be mare mode widely available.
"Before this drug can be made more widely available, a number of things need to happen: the data and results need to be reviewed by the regulators to assess whether the drug can be licensed and then they need assessment by the relevant health authorities in various countries," Prof Mahesh Parmar, the director of the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL was quoted by BBC.
"While this is happening we will obtain more and longer-term data from this trial, and other ones, on whether the drug also prevents deaths from Covid-19," Parmar added.