Dr. Anthony Fauci has been head of the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), which has been conducting a global drug trial involving 1,063 people in 75 hospitals since early April. Earlier Thursday, Dr. Fauci said initial results show that there is “clear” evidence that remdesivir is helping patients with COVID-19 to recover from the disease. The researchers found that patients who received the antiviral drug recovered 31% faster than those who did not.
Recovery times have been reduced from a median of 15 days to 11, while the drug also appears to increase a person’s overall chances of survival.
Only eight percent of people taking remdesivir died from the disease, compared to 11 percent of those taking placebo (fake).
Dr. Fauci told NBC News Today: “This is the first step in what we are planning, better drugs will come … so this is good news, but I was very serious when I said it was wasn’t the total answer, by any means, but it’s a very important first step. “
He added, “I hear the business [that makes remdesivir] is really determined to get it out as soon as possible, as soon as possible, “and he expects the FOOD and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the drug” very quickly. “
Remdesivir is produced by the California company Gilead, which originally developed the drug as a treatment for Ebola.
It works by attacking an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate inside human cells.
Scientists around the world have welcomed the news of the first positive results calling it “fantastic”.
Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health, University of Oxford leads the RECOVERY trial of reused drugs that may be useful in Covid-19.
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Dr Fauci also said he hoped a vaccine could be available by January.
He said, “We want to go fast but we want to make sure it is safe and efficient.
“I think it’s doable if things get to the right place. “
His comments come as hope grows that a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford could be ready as early as September.
Doses of the vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, were administered to six rhesus macaque monkeys a month ago.
The monkeys, which are closely related to humans, did not develop COVID-19 after being exposed to the deadly virus.
Other monkeys who did not get the vaccine all got the virus and got sick.
The University of Oxford has now conducted human trials, with 1,110 healthy volunteers recruited for the tests.
If the trial is successful, millions of doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine may be available as early as September, Oxford researchers told the New York Times.