Coronavirus pandemic: Is remdesivir actually effective in treatment?

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: Apr 30, 2020, 08:51 PM(IST)

Anti-viral drug remdesivir Photograph:( Reuters )

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However, though the drug is helping in the recovery of the patients, but, it's not 100 per cent effective.

Numbers of countries around the world are reeling under unprecedented coronavirus crisis. Since December, when the first case had emerged, over three million people have become a victim of this deadly virus by now and thousands of others have died. 

Scientists across the world are working day-night to create a vaccine for coronavirus. But is there a definitive way to treat the coronavirus?

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So far, the treatment has been largely based on trial and error. A combination of drugs has been used to treat the virus. In the US, there is one drug that is working which is called remdesivir. This drug has been described as the lifesaver bye doctors in the US.

However, though the drug is helping in the recovery of the patients, but, it's not 100 per cent effective.

Scientists in the US found that patients who were given remdesivir have a shorter recovery time.

Also read: How New Zealand, Taiwan and Finland have kept coronavirus at bay

The data shows that remdesivir has a clear cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery, said Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"Although a 31 per cent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100 per cent, it is a very important proof of concept. because what it is proven is that a drug can block this virus," The doctor also said.

Remdesivir was originally tested to treat ebola patients. But, according to preliminary studies, studies indicate that this drug is working.

Scientists had tested remdesivir first on monkeys and the results were promising.

Chief of Molecular Pathogenesis Unit for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Emmie De Wit, said, "there was a very clear difference. So, the animals that were treated with remdesivir, they didn't show the breathing difficulties. We also didn't see much damage to their lungs after treatment which proved that the drug clearly had a very positive effect on the disease."

During the trials in the US, the drug was administered through daily infusion for 10 days after which the doctors said that the duration of symptoms dropped from 15 days to 11.

More than one thousand patients were part of this trial but, it is still premature to declare remdesivir the cure.

Speaking on the 30% decrease in overall mortality due to coronavirus, Dr Mark Denison of Vanderbilt University said,  "these numbers don't look dramatic and they haven't been reviewed yet."

"What I'm optimistic about is that if you think of all, all patients, those that are maybe moderately ill to those that are profoundly ill and ventilator-dependent, the idea that you could have a 30% decrease in overall mortality and this even better improvement to recovery is, to me, pretty profound."

As the full results of the study are not out yet, the doctors are proceeding with caution.

In China as well, researchers have studied its effects but they claimed the drug to be ineffective in intial stage of the research.

The Chinese scientists were not able to complete their trial, apparently because the doctors didn't have enough patients.

The drug was tested on just over 200 patients there.

Despite the doubts, US President Donald Trump has jumped the gun once again as he wants authorities to fast track the permissions required for mass emergency use.

"Yeah, I want them to go as quickly as they can. Stephen Hahn, Dr Hahn (FDA chief) has been incredible at the FDA. He's getting things done in record time. there's never been anything like it. and yeah, we want it, we want everything to be safe. but we do, we would like to see very quick approvals, especially with things at work," Trump had said during a White House meeting.

This is not the first time Trump had done this. Earlier, he had touted hydroxychloroquine as the miracle drug. But, the drug proved to be life-threatening for some patients.

In Brazil, researchers had to cancel a small chloroquine study after some patients developed cardiac arrhythmias. Several also lost their lives.

Remdesivir shows promise; but, world leaders should not begin a mad rush to procure it.

Several scientists have issued a warning over these days and one promising study is not good enough to determine the effectiveness of a drug.

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