Researchers on Wednesday released some encouraging news about a possible treatment for coronavirus.
They announced that the experimental drug remdesivir could help patients recover more quickly.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the maker of the drug, about making it available to patients.
“As part of the FDA’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in … discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in statement.
The government-funded study found that patients who took remdesivir recovered faster than patients who did not.
Additionally, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is optimistic about those results.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday. He added, “What [the clinical trial] has proven is that a drug can block this virus. This drug happens to be blocking an enzyme that the virus uses.”
Fauci, who has been at the head of the agency for 36 years, compared the findings to the 1986 discovery that the anti-retroviral drug azidothymidine, or AZT, could suppress the HIV virus in patients with AIDS. That drug, which later became known as Retrovir, allowed for HIV patients to turn what was often considered a terminal illness into a manageable chronic health condition.
Results from the preliminary trial show remdesivir improved recovery time for coronavirus patients from 15 to 11 days, similar to the effect Tamiflu has on flu.
“Although a 31% improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100%, it is very important proof of concept,” Fauci added.
“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,” the NIAID said.
There is no word on when the FDA may approve the drug for use.