New Delhi: US President Donald Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, is being administered Remdesivir, an intravenous antiviral drug sold by American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc.
A correspondence published in the Lancet Saturday said Remdesivir does not appear to reduce SARS-CoV-2 viral load or death rate when compared to a placebo. Other existing research has also shown that this relatively expensive drug does not reduce viral load or death risks.
An experimental medicine, Remdesivir was first developed over 10 years ago by Gilead Sciences to treat Hepatitis C. It was later tested as a potential treatment for Ebola and Marburg viral infections. But when other therapies for Ebola virus proved to be more effective, the development of Remdesivir slowed down.
With the Covid-19 outbreak, however, the drug has again made a come back after initial studies showed that it helps stop viral replication.
First drug to be made available to fight Covid
Initial trials of Remdesivir, conducted between February and March in China, had failed to show benefits in Covid-19 patients. But scientists across the world have continued to perform clinical trials of Remdesivir since it has been shown to shorten hospital stays even though the drug did not seem to reduce death risks.
Shorter hospital stays meant beds became quickly available for patients and more lives were saved.
By April, Remdesivir was seen as the most promising drug against Covid-19. But even then, the drug was only said to shorten hospital stays without reducing death risks from Covid-19.
In May, the drug was cleared by US regulators for emergency use in Covid-19 patients, becoming the first medication, backed by early clinical data, to be made available to counter the novel coronavirus.
While there have been doubts about Remdesivir’s efficacy to fight the novel coronavirus, clinical trials of the drug are still ongoing in many parts of the world since, given early, it may still help some patients recover faster.