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Report: COVID-19 patients are responding quickly to experimental drug remdesivir

In Chicago, COVID-19 coronavirus patients participating in a clinical study of the antiviral medicine remdesivir are experiencing quick recoveries from their respiratory and fever symptoms, Stat News reported Thursday.

Remdesivir was developed by Gilead Sciences to treat Ebola. The company is conducting two global studies — the severe COVID-19 study includes 2,400 patients at 152 trial sites, and the moderate COVID-19 study has 1,600 patients at 169 sites. The trials are investigating five- and 10-day treatment courses of remdesivir, and aim to have a statistical comparison of improvement between them.

University of Chicago Medicine is one of the hospitals participating, with 125 COVID-19 patients — 113 of them with severe symptoms — taking part in two Phase 3 clinical trials, receiving daily infusions of remdesivir. Stat has obtained video of Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago's infectious disease specialist who is overseeing the studies, sharing with her colleagues updates on the trials, including how nearly all of the patients have been discharged in less than a week.

Only two patients have died, she said, and when the drug is started, "we see fever curves falling." Mullane also shared that people have "come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. So, in that realm, overall our patients have done very well." Most patients leave the hospital after six days, she added, "so that tells us duration of therapy doesn't have to be 10 days. We have very few that went out to 10 days, maybe three."

The hospital's trials do not include a placebo group, and Stat notes that it is "impossible to determine the full study results with any certainty. Still, no other clinical data from the Gilead studies have been released to date, and excitement is high." Read more at Stat News.