New results from a clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases establish the drug as the standard of care for Covid-19, which has killed 50,000 people in the U.S. so far, said agency Director Anthony Fauci. He likened the good news about remdesivir to the discovery of the first medication found to help treat HIV more than three decades ago.
"The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Results from the preliminary trial show Remdesivir improved recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days. That’s similar to the effect that the influenza drug Tamiflu has on flu. Tamiflu also doesn’t cure patients quickly, but can reduce how long they are sick.
"Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is very important proof of concept," Fauci said of Remdesivir. "What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus."
Remdesivir also may reduce the likelihood that patients will die.
"Results also suggested a survival benefit, with a mortality rate of 8.0% for the group receiving Remdesivir versus 11.6% for the placebo group,"
Remdesivir is among several drugs being tested against Covid-19, but the NIAID trial is the first conducted according to rules aimed at gaining FDA approval.
About 1,090 people participated in the trial internationally, but the World Health Organization said it’s too early to comment on the remdesivir trial results released.
"Typically, you don’t have one study that will come out that will be a game changer," said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus response.
She said the agency generally pulls together evidence from several studies before reviewing and critiquing the evidence.
"It can sometimes take a number of publications to determine (what) the ultimate impact of a drug is," said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program.