Company replies quick recovery of Remdesivir on COVID-19 patients
Reuters Photo

Reuters Photo

In a clinical trial of Remdesivir, a candidate antiviral drug for COVID-19, the majority of patients were reported to get quick recovery from fever and other respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week, according to the medical news website STAT.

The experimental result, with 125 patients involved, was from the University of Chicago Medicine, which is among the 152 locations participating in the drug's trial on severe COVID-19 patients in the U.S.

The company Gilead Sciences made timely reply soon after its share surged 16 percent on Thursday, saying that despite the inspiring results from the report, the totality of the data needs to be analyzed in order to draw any conclusions from the trial.

UChicago Medicine, in an email with Reuters, said: "partial data from an ongoing clinical trial is by definition incomplete and should never be used to draw conclusions."

The university also responded to the report, claiming that information from an internal forum for research colleagues concerning work in progress was released without authorization.

Remdesivir's past and present

Interest in Gilead's drug amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been high. The New England Journal of Medicine last week published an analysis showing that two-thirds of a small group of severely ill COVID-19 patients saw their condition improve after treatment with remdesivir.

The paper's author called the findings "hopeful," but cautioned it is difficult to interpret the results since they do not include a comparison to a control group, the patient numbers were small, the details being disclosed were limited, and the follow-up time was relatively short.

The U.S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in February began an 800-patient trial that randomly assigns patients to treatment with either remdesivir or a placebo. Those results are not expected until after Gilead's trial reads out.

There are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus that has infected over 2 million people worldwide.

The "anecdotal data ... looks promising on the surface and continues to support some potential for the drug to be active in certain COVID-19 patients," RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams said in a research note. "Nonetheless, there are major limitations to contextualizing and interpreting this data."

Redmisivir was originally created by Gilead Sciences to fight against Ebola and Marburg virus infection. But related studies have shown that the drug is more effective against the respiratory disease, like MERS, one of the members in coronavirus family.

Now there is much higher hope that it will be a candidate cure for COVID-19, which was caused by a novel coronavirus.

While clinical trials of the drug are happening in the U.S., results from late-stage tests happening in China are expected first, possibly as early as this month.

(With input from Reuters)