NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s a possible step forward in the treatment of the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at the White House on Wednesday about a promising trial of the drug Remdesivir.
“The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. This is really quite important,” Fauci said. “What it is proven is that a drug can block this virus.”
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Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug that was originally developed as a not very effective treatment for Ebola.
It has also been tried against the strains of coronaviruses that cause MERS and SARS, where it showed some benefit.
In this trial, run by Dr. Fauci’s institute and the National Institutes of Health, Remdesivir shortened the time it took more than 1,000 patients to recover from COVID-19 by nearly a third — from 15 days to 11.
The results were significant enough that the clinical trial was interrupted so other COVID-19 patients involved could be offered the drug, too.
It works by interfering with the coronavirus’ ability to replicate its genetic material.
There are indications the FDA could allow emergency use of it in some situations.
The FDA is in discussions with Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer, regarding making Remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, despite a previous trial in China showing disappointing results.
Still, Dr. Fauci said this trial was an important proof of concept and should now be considered the new standard of care for COVID-19.
The drug is a treatment, however, not a cure.
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Right now, there are some 70 trials around the world in search of a vaccine.
One of the most promising is from Oxford University, where scientists claim one could be available by September.
“Well, personally, I have a high degree of confidence about this vaccine because it’s technology I’ve used before,” said Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford University professor of vaccinology.
So is there any way to speed up the road to the vaccine?
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says you can speed up the science part of a vaccine, meaning developing something that you think will work as a vaccine, but the part you can’t speed up is when you have to actually demonstrate it’s effective and give it to thousands of people.
Just getting those results could take months.
In short, there are no shortcuts in the fight to find a cure.