Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug originally developed by Gilead Sciences as a possible treatment for the Ebola virus, has shown preliminary promise in treating COVID-19 patients.
In fact, a report about the drug’s effectiveness caused U.S. stock futures to surge on Thursday night.
In one clinical trial at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, 125 patients suffering from COVID-19 received daily infusions of Remdesivir. Of them, 113 had severe disease.
“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Dr. Kathleen Mullane, who is overseeing the Remdesivir study.
Mullane made the statements in a discussion about the trial with other University of Chicago faculty members. The medical news website STAT News obtained a video of the discussion.
STAT News reports: Mullane, while encouraged by the University of Chicago data, made clear her own hesitancy about drawing too many conclusions. “It’s always hard,” she said, because the severe trial doesn’t include a placebo group for comparison. “But certainly when we start [the] drug, we see fever curves falling,” she said. “Fever is now not a requirement for people to go on trial, we do see when patients do come in with high fevers, they do [reduce] quite quickly. We have seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. So, in that realm, overall our patients have done very well.” She added: “Most of our patients are severe and most of them are leaving at six days, so that tells us duration of therapy doesn’t have to be 10 days. We have very few that went out to 10 days, maybe three,” she said.
More from CNN: Trials of the drug are ongoing at dozens of other clinical centers, as well. Gilead is sponsoring tests of the drug in 2,400 patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms in 152 trial sites around the world. It’s also testing the drug in 1,600 patients with moderate symptoms at 169 hospitals and clinics around the world. Gilead said it expected results from the trial by the end of the month. “We understand the urgent need for a COVID-19 treatment and the resulting interest in data on our investigational antiviral drug remdesivir,” the company said in a statement to CNN. But it said a few stories about patients are just that — stories. “The totality of the data need to be analyzed in order to draw any conclusions from the trial. Anecdotal reports, while encouraging, do not provide the statistical power necessary to determine the safety and efficacy profile of remdesivir as a treatment for Covid-19,” Gilead said.