Gilead Science’s experimental antiviral medicine remdesivir is reportedly showing promise for the treatment of people plagued with the novel coronavirus, with nearly all patients in a closely monitored clinical trial at a Chicago hospital discharged in just days, an early assessment of data released this week revealed.
Remdesivir works by thwarting the virus’s ability to replicate inside cells.
Along with plans to reopen the country announced by U.S. President Donald Trump and some governors, the Remdesivir treatment optimism reportedly contributed to a surge in stocks Friday.
However, the University of Chicago Medicine researchers who conducted the trial urged caution, echoing Gilead.
“Information from an internal forum for research colleagues concerning work in progress was released without authorization,” the university said, according to the Financial Times (FT). “Drawing any conclusions at this point is premature and scientifically unsound.”
Experts are cautious about the prospects of using remdesivir to treat patients suffering from coronavirus illness (COVID-19), FT added.
STAT, a medical news outlet, first reported that an early peek at the data from the clinical trial in Chicago suggested that coronavirus patients were responding to the Gilead Science drug.
“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital, declared, according to STAT.
On Thursday, STAT revealed that the drug is prompting “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients [at the Chicago hospital] discharged in less than a week,” adding:
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 outcomes offer only a snapshot of remdesivir’s effectiveness. The same trials are being run concurrently at other institutions, and it’s impossible to determine the full study results with any certainty. Still, no other clinical data from the Gilead studies have been released to date, and excitement is high. Last month, President [Donald] Trump touted the potential for remdesivir — as he has for many still-unproven treatments — and said it “seems to have a very good result.
The recently released date is anecdotal, meaning people should avoid using the information to draw any conclusions about using remdesivir to treat COVID-19, STAT cautioned.
In an email to USA Today, Chris Ridley, a spokesperson for Gilead, proclaimed:
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.
Nevertheless, STAT noted that “some of the anecdotes are dramatic.”
“Remdesivir was a miracle,” Slawomir Michalak, a 57-year-old factory worker who was among the participants in the Chicago study, declared, according to STAT.
Other studies have also shown that Remdesivir is a promising drug against the coronavirus.
Research published on April 13 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry revealed, “Scientists at the University of Alberta have shown that the drug remdesivir is highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” Science Daily reported.
Citing UBS analyst Navin Jacob, USA Today added:
The New England Journal of Medicine on Friday published the results of a 10-day study involving 53′ quite severe’ patients in which 68% showed ‘clinical improvement,’ 47% were discharged before the study was completed and 13% died.
To conduct the trial sponsored by Gilead Science, University of Chicago Medicine researchers recruited 125 people with COVID-19, including 113 with severe cases of the disease.
Health officials treated all patients with daily infusions of remdesivir.
Remdesivir emerged from a collaboration to find antiviral drugs during the West African Ebola epidemic of 2013-16 that involved Gilead, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It works by jamming the molecular machinery that some viruses use to build their genes as they replicate.”
The University of Chicago Medicine is participating in two trials — sponsored by Gilead — involving 2,400 severe cases at 152 sites and 1,600 moderate cases at 169 locations, STAT revealed.
Ridley said Gilead expects to receive final results from the study of severe coronavirus cases by the end of April, followed by other findings in May.