For some weeks now, Donald Trump has heralded malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as showing “tremendous promise” to combat COVID-19 but no study has yielded any sufficient data (yet) that bears out Trump’s “feeling” that it would be the salvation folks are hoping for.
But drugmaker Gilead may have some good news soon about its experimental drug Remdesivir.
Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in lab tests. The entire world has been waiting for results from Gilead’s clinical trials, and positive results would likely lead to fast approvals by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies.
If safe and effective, it could become the first approved treatment against the disease.
The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19 into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir.
“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital.
It’s important to note that a group of 125 patients in Chicago isn’t large enough to give researchers the depth of information they need.
Gilead is currently overseeing 152 separate clinical trials around the world involving 2,400 severe patients. There are an additional 169 trials following 1,600 moderate COVID-19 patients. Until the trials are closed and the numbers crunched we won’t have a clear idea as to how useful the drug might be against coronavirus.
That said, one man’s story definitely shows promise.
Slawomir Michalak, a 57-year-old factory worker from a suburb west of Chicago, told StatNews he went to the University of Chicago Medicine hospital on Friday, April 3, when he spiked a 104 fever and found it difficult to breathe.
He was put on oxygen and given the option to join the severe coronavirus trial.
On Saturday, April 4, he received his first infusion of the drug. “My fever dropped almost immediately and I started to feel better,” he said.
The next day, he received a second dose and was able to breathe without supplemental oxygen. After two more daily treatments of remdesivir, he was well enough to be discharged on Tuesday, April 7.
It’s only one man’s experience with the drug, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.