Gilead Sciences released preliminary results on Wednesday of the drug trial, which showed that at least 50% of patients treated with a five-day dosage of remdesivir improved and more than half were discharged from the hospital within two weeks. Another trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also met its main goal although no further details were disclosed.
Data from the trial on more than 1,000 severely ill patients across 75 hospitals around the world shows that patients put on the drug recovered 31% faster than similar patients who were given a placebo drug instead. Remdesivir, a drug designed to treat Ebola patients, cut recovery time from a median of 15 days to 11.
Scientists also suggested the drug could have an effect on survival. In the group on the drug, 8% died, compared with 11% among those given a placebo.
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured), director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the early results “quite good news”.
“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” added Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert. “This will be the standard of care. “The data shows remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”
Remdesivir is not a cure for coronavirus and Gilead’s preliminary results must be confirmed by more data. However, the latest research data looks promising with experts thinking it could help those who are acutely ill. Multiple trials are taking place in hospitals around the world.
The latest development in trials is good news for Gilead after an earlier trial of the drug, in patients with severe illness in China, showed no effect. After the disappointing results, tests were stopped early because insufficient numbers of people could be recruited as the epidemic tailed off.
Last month, Gilead Sciences saw its stock benefit from the company’s active role in developing an effective treatment for the new coronavirus and it looks like it will be able to hold the momentum. The company’s stock lifted 5.7%, closing at $83.14 on Wednesday. Gilead Sciences shares have lifted 28% this year.