What is Remdesivir? How can it help in Covid-19 treatment
Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral drug. According to early clinical data, it can help Covid-19 patients recover faster. The experimental antiviral, which was recently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) for “emergency use authorisation” in the US, is created by pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences which is headquartered in California, US, with operations in over 30 countries.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) describes Remdesivir as a nucleoside ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymerase inhibitor.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist who oversaw the study, told reporters at the White House as reported by news agency AFP. However, he added that the experimental drug is not a miracle cure.
The drug was first developed to treat Ebola and showed early promise in a primate study in 2016.
In February, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced working with remdesivir to tackle Covid-19.
How does it work?
In a trial, evaluating 5-day and 10-day dosing durations of the drug remdesivir in coronavirus patients, it was found that the drug achieved improvement in patients with a severe manifestation of Covid-19 .
The effectiveness of the drug was measured in terms of clinical improvement reported in patients ranging from improvement in breathing, increased level of oxygen support to hospital discharge.
Nearly 50% of patients in the 5-day treatment showed clinical improvement in 10 days. More than half of patients in two treatment groups of the clinical trial were discharged from the hospital by Day 14. The trial was conducted by Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Remdesivir has already been given to patients around the world, both in clinical trials and outside. Gilead has been responding to “compassionate use requests” for emergency access. The company is also looking into potentially developing an inhaled formulation, but hasn’t given a timeline.
The US FDA has already issued an “emergency use authorisation” which will expand its use further, before it gets a formal approval.
The drug is complex to manufacture and is administered via injection, rather than a pill.
(With inputs from AFP, Gilead Sciences, US FDA)