Drug developed to treat Ebola shows promise in COVID-19 patients

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. – An experimental drug developed in Oceanside is showing great promise in shortening the duration of time a person is sick with COVID-19.

Gilead Sciences, whose research and development lab is in Oceanside, created the drug, Remdesivir, to first treat Ebola and later MERS. The drug is now going through clinical trials for COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 but is moving to quickly authorize the use of  Remdesivir as an emergency treatment.

“It’s been studied in humans for other diseases so we know what’s going to happen to the folks taking these drugs,” said USD professor Joseph Provost. “We know the risks involved and that shortens the lifespan in going through the clinical trials.”

This comes following positive results of a preliminary trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases run by Dr. Anthony Fauci.   

Of the nearly 400 patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms who were treated with Remdesivir, 62% left the hospital after about 11 days. That’s compared to 49% of patients who started the treatment late in the onset of the virus, who either died or were in the hospital for roughly 15 days.

“31% may not seem like a knockout 100%, it is a very important proof of concept because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” said Dr. Fauci.

Gilead Sciences is conducting their own study and issued this statement which reads in part:

Gilead Sciences. Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) is aware of positive data emerging from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) study of the investigational antiviral Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. We understand that the trial has met its primary endpoint and that NIAID will provide detailed information at an upcoming briefing. Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not yet been demonstrated to be safe or effective for the treatment of COVID-19.

-Gilead Sciences

While the drug is not a cure for COVID-19, for patients who may need a ventilator as a next step in treatment, Remdesivir may be their only hope for survival.

“If  you can shorten the duration that they are really sick, then you can stop a lot of damage to the patient,” said Professor Provost. “Hopefully it will quicken the time ofrecovery for those who may not get to recover.”

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