Remdesivir Coronavirus Trial Shows Improvement In 50 Percent of Patients, Antiviral's Manufacturer Says

Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug initially developed to treat the Ebola virus, has shown some early promise as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, CNBC reports.

On Wednesday, Remdesivir's manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, said that a clinical study of the drug as a treatment for the coronavirus showed encouraging results.

Specifically, 397 patients with severe COVID-19 were studied in a "single-arm" study, which is to say, all of the patients in the study received the treatment and there was no control group who received a placebo, as is normally the case in clinical drug trials.

Rather, the study gave two groups of patients the medicine over different time periods. One group received the drug over a 5-day period, while the other group received it for 10 days.

The drug appeared to produce the same results in both groups -- half the patients were discharged from the hospital within 14 days. Of the patients in the 5-day group, 64.5 percent were discharged; of the 10-day group, 53.8 percent were discharged.

Aruna Subramanian, a lead investigator of the study, called the results "encouraging."

"These data are encouraging as they indicate that patients who received a shorter, 5-day course of remdesivir experienced similar clinical improvement as patients who received a 10-day treatment course," she said.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Medical workers take in patients outside of a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on April 28, 2020 in the Borough Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Hospitals in New York City, which have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, are just beginning to see a downturn in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Getty Images | Spencer Platt

CNBC analyst Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, is not convinced that the data is enough to conclude a cure for the virus has been found.

"It's not going to be a cure, but it is going to be a drug potentially that if you use it particularly early in the course of the disease... it could reduce their chances of having a really bad outcome," he said.

He further noted the drug is simply another tool that doctors have at their disposal to treat the illness.

However, another CNBC analyst, Jim Cramer, wrote in a companion CNBC report that the remdesivir data is -- at the very least -- a signal of a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus.

"What I regard this as is the beginning of the end of the true nightmare, which is that it's a death sentence," Cramer said.

The medical community is still waiting on what could very well be the single best weapon in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic -- a vaccine. However, vaccines take years to develop. The best-case scenario timeframe for developing a vaccine for the coronavirus and getting it deployed for widespread use is 12-18 months. The pandemic has only been going on for 3-4 months. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Dr. Anthony Fauci is hopeful that a vaccine will be proven safe and effective by the winter, with a view towards possibly manufacturing and deploying it not long afterwards.