COVID-19 Treatment Update: Remdesivir Improved Two-Thirds of Severe Coronavirus Cases


Jessica Guo, Staff Writer

Filled with thousands of critically ill, hospitals have become symbols of death rather than hope. With over 530,000 confirmed cases in the United States alone, it is clear that the Coronavirus is a threat that needs to be taken seriously.

New York City has become the epicenter for the virus in the U.S., and only essential personnel are allowed to work. Of these essential personnel, scientists are working tirelessly to find a treatment. Although they have not discovered a vaccine, Gilead Sciences’ drug Remdesivir shows promise. 

Remdesivir may soon be a limited treatment for the novel Coronavirus after an experiment involving 53 patients was unveiled. The drug was tested through a compassionate-use program, which allows people to use unapproved medications when no other treatment options are available. All patients received Remdesivir for up to 10 days, and after 18 days, 36 patients (68%) showed an improvement in oxygen-support, with 17 of those patients able to breathe without a mechanical ventilator. A total of 25 patients (47%) were discharged, and 7 (13%) died. 

Following 28 days, clinical improvement was 84%. Additionally, it should be remembered that the 53 patients were critically ill beforehand, showing that Remdesivir has the potential to treat even the most advanced cases of the virus. The testing of this drug also involved multiple countries. Of the 53 patients, 22 were in the United States, 22 in Europe and Canada, and 9 in Japan, revealing that this could be a solution used world-wide. 

Unfortunately, these programs do have their limitations. This was not a controlled clinical study, and there was no placebo or second drug given for comparison. Measure of the true efficacy of this drug will require an ongoing randomized experiment. “We cannot draw definitive conclusions from these data, but the observations from this group of hospitalized patients who received remdesivir are hopeful,” said lead author Jonathan Grein, director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles

Gilead expects more data at the end of April from a study involving severe patients, and analyst Geoffrey Proges expects Remdesivir to be approved for limited use in May. 

Since the first reported cases in December 2019, the coronavirus has become a worldwide pandemic. Scientists have been rapidly searching for a treatment and although a vaccine has yet to be discovered, Remdesivir is a large step in the right direction.