Coronavirus patient in remdesivir trial says he left hospital “improving significantly”

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Remdesivir, an antiviral, shows promise against coronavirus. Preliminary results from a National Institutes of Health clinical trial found that patients taking the investigational drug recovered on average four days earlier than those on placebo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci called the results “Very important proof of concept that a drug can block this virus,” and the Food and Drug Administration can now consider emergency approval to expand its use. But there are also reasons to be careful, and the drug is not a cure.

A study patient spoke to CBS News senior medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula about his experience.

“It was a very quick start,” said Drew McDonald of the virus. “It became real to me when I went to bed on Sunday evening and couldn’t breathe. “

McDonald’s battle with COVID-19 had just landed him in the hospital when doctors asked the 29-year-old to participate in a clinical trial of remdesivir.

He was already receiving intravenous medication for double pneumonia. “So I thought, you know,‘ Why not? Absolutely ‘, ”he said.

“By the time I left the hospital, I was already improving considerably,” said McDonald.

McDonald was one of more than 1,000 COVID-19 hospital patients in the national trial. Those receiving remdesivir recovered 31% faster and were slightly less likely to die than those a placebo.

Remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat Ebola, targets one of the enzymes that help the coronavirus to multiply.

“Perhaps this is only the first step,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who oversaw the trial at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. “The efforts that have gone into developing not only therapies, but also vaccines against SARS and the Ebola virus have put us light years ahead of our time. “

Although McDonald’s never knew if he received remdesivir or a placebo, for him it was important to participate in the research.

“Because I want to help other people,” he said.

Fauci said there is an ethical obligation to stop giving patients a placebo and start treating them with remdesivir.

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