WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. government officials say an experimental drug has proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major study.
Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir is the first treatment to pass such a strict test against the virus, which has killed more than 226,000 people since it emerged late last year.
The study was led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and tested remdesivir versus usual care in more than 1,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world.
Results released Wednesday showed the drug reduced the time to recovery by 31%, or four days on average, compared to usual care.
It is given through an IV and interferes with the virus's ability to copy its genetic material.
During a White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of NIH, expressed optimism about finding a possible treatment for COVID-19.
He said the data showed an improved recovery time, from 15 to 11 days, for the patients treated with remdesivir. Fauci said the results are “opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating” the virus.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Fauci. “This is really quite important.”
Fauci called the study “the first truly high-powered randomized placebo-controlled trial.”
Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for the coronavirus. Remdesivir is just one of many antiviral drugs being looked at. However, an official told The New York Times that the FDA may soon announce an emergency use authorization for remdesivir.