What is Remdesivir and can it be useful in treating COVID-19?

To combat COVID-19 various clinical trials are going on and one such is remdesivir. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told that results from a clinical trial of a drug remdesivir for treating COVID-19 virus have shown quite good news. Let us read in detail about the research and remdesivir medicine.
Created On: Apr 30, 2020 10:38 IST
Modified On: Apr 30, 2020 10:44 IST
What is Remdesivir?
What is Remdesivir?

Dr. Fauci further told that the data from a study of remdesivir showed patients who took the drug recovered quicker than those who did not. Patients provided with remdesivir showed 31 per cent of improvement in the outcome of their infection over patients who were given a placebo. Improvement is only 31 per cent not 100 per cent but important is positive responses showed that the drug can block this virus and can become "the standard of care" for COVID-19 patients.

Patients provided with remdesivir shown recovery in 11 days and those in the placebo group was 15 days. People who are very sick with the virus, the drug can help to survive it. According to a statement from the National Institutes of Health is that the mortality rate for those taking remdesivir was 8% compared to 11% for those in the placebo group.

Glied Sciences via press release a sigh of relief around the world: A study had shown that its experimental drug, remdesivir, had reduced the time it took for patients with COVID-19 to get better. That is patients are responding to treatment.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medication or we can say that it is an investigational antiviral compound that is being studied in 2020. A clinical trial is undergoing in several countries including China, the United States and the United Kingdom as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

What is Remdesivir (RDV)?

Remdesivir is an antiviral class of medications, a synthetic molecule that targets synthesis of RNA. The molecule looks same like DNA nucleoside. It is said that the virus that causes COVID-19 is an RNA virus.

Note: RNA is a build protein by using DNA instructions and is a molecular transcription tool organism. The RNA viruses are dependent on an enzyme RNA polymerase to grow the chain of RNA.

RNA cannot be developed that is via some metabolic processes, remdesivir substitutes itself for essential elements needed by the polymerase.

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Is Remdesivir can be useful in treating COVID-19?

Remdesivir is not approved or not yet licensed anywhere globally. It also has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective for any use. Several demonstrations and trials are going on for treating COVID-19. Remdesivir has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity in animal models against the viral pathogens that causes MERS and SARS. These viruses are coronaviruses structurally similar to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Let us tell you that in December 2019, Novel Coronavirus was first identified in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei province. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11 February, 2020 renamed the disease caused by the virus as COVID-19.

Clinical studies that are going on for the use of remdesivir as a potential treatment for COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Severe 2019-nCoV Remdesivir RCT China-Japan Friendship Hospital - Beijing, China
  • Mild/Moderate 2019-nCoV Remdesivir RCT Jin Yin-tan Hospital - Wuhan, China
  • Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha NE, USA
  • Expanded Access Remdesivir (RDV; GS-5734™) U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
  • Study to Evaluate the Safety and Antiviral Activity of Remdesivir (GS-5734™) in Participants with Severe Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Gilead Sciences, Inc.
  • Study to Evaluate the Safety and Antiviral Activity of Remdesivir (GS-5734™) in Participants With Moderate Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Compared to Standard of Care Treatment Gilead Sciences, Inc.
  • Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

A data was posted by the Gilead Sciences on 53 severe COVID-19 patients that were provided with remdesivir on a compassionate use basis. It was seen that more than two-thirds of the patients were improved after receiving the remdesivir, although it is difficult to tell the role of the antiviral drug that played in their recoveries.

It provides hope of improving outcomes in COVID-19 patients. The experiences of patients were provided by the Gilead about the treatment given a compassionate use basis was published in a paper The New England Journal of Medicine. 61 patients were covered in a study, 8 of whom were excluded due to lack of post-treatment data or dosing error.

The hospital of Chicago is treating severe COVID-19 patients with Gilead Sciences' and provided with an antiviral medicine remdesivir. Patients are closely watched in a clinical trial and are found that rapid recoveries are seen in fever, respiratory symptoms, and nearly all patients are discharged in less than a week. 

From Gilead's clinical trials, everyone in the world is waiting for results and no doubt positive results will lead to fast approval by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. If the medicine is safe and effective, could be the first possible treatment that will be approved against the disease. 
Let us tell you that the University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19 into Gilead's two Phase 3 clinical trials. Out of 125, 113 patients were suffering from severe disease. All the patients were given treatment with daily infusions of remdesivir. And the best part is most of the patients are recovered and discharged. Still, research and trials are going on. And no other clinical data from the Gilead studies have been released yet.

According to new research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Scientists at the University of Alberta have shown that the drug remdesivir is highly effective in stopping the replication of the mechanism of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The access of the drug is limited as no one knows yet that whether remdesivir is effective in the treatment of COVID-19, and FDA has also not approved the drug for use in any disease. We also can't ignore the fact that there is limited published information available on COVID-19 coronavirus treatment.   Research and trials are going on still and hoping that something fruitful will come out. The only way is to take precautions as per the advisory of the WHO and stay home be safe!

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