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The experimental coronavirus treatment remdesivir has shortened the recovery time for COVID-19 patients, according to data from a new study cited by the U.S. government.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, during a White House press conference on Wednesday.
A trend toward fewer deaths was seen among those on the drug, said Fauci. The study was run by National Institutes of Health [NIH] and tested remdesivir versus usual care in 1,063 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world. Fauci said patients on the drug took 11 days on average to recover versus 15 days for the others.
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“It is a very important proof of concept because what it is proving is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci added. “The mortality rate trended towards being better in the sense of less deaths in the remdesivir group – 8 percent versus 11 percent in the placebo group. It has not reached statistical significance but the data needs to be further analyzed.”
The antiviral was previously used to treat Ebola patients and has been garnering massive attention as the world scrambles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Wednesday Gilead said that remdesivir generated “positive data” in a trial of the antiviral organized by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Shares of the biotech rose more than 6 percent during Wednesday trading.
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During his press conference, Fauci said that more information on remdesivir’s performance will be forthcoming. “Bottom line, you’re going to be hearing more details about this,” he said. “This will be submitted to a peer-review journal and will be peer-reviewed appropriately.
“But I think it’s really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating, and I can guarantee you, as more people, more companies, more investigators get involved, it’s going to get better and better,” said Fauci.
However, he noted that, as yet, it is unclear whether or not the drug would be most effective for earlier-stage COVID-19 patients.
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In the U.S., remdesivir is still awaiting regulatory approval as a coronavirus treatment.
“The FDA, literally, as we speak, is working with Gilead to figure out mechanisms to make this easily available to those who need it,” explained Fauci. “With regard to getting to the market, it will obviously have to be approved by the FDA for licensure and the FDA is very well aware that this is something that is very important so I am sure that they are going to be moving very expeditiously, but I can’t give you a date.”
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The various trials of remdesivir have come under intense scrutiny. Experts, however, warn that people should not take drugs unless prescribed by a doctor.
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As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 3.16 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, at least 1,023,304 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 224,562 deaths around the world, including at least 59,392 people in the U.S.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this article.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers