A rigorous trial sponsored by the U.S. government showed remdesivir has a clear impact on hospitalization time for COVID-19 patients, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday.
Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which provided funding for the clinical trial.
An independent data and safety monitoring board, which analyzed results from the trial, notified researchers that the results show remdesivir “has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Fauci told reporters at the White House.
“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” he added.
The median recovery time for patients in the group receiving remdesivir, an experimental drug developed by the California-based Gilead Sciences, was 11 days, compared to a 15-day median recovery for the group receiving a placebo, or a 31 percent faster recovery time.
The mortality rate for the remdesivir group was 8 percent, compared to 11 percent for the other group, though the number has not yet reached statistical significance.
The full results haven’t been released, but NIAID announced the data several days earlier than it normally would because of ethical considerations, Fauci said.
“Whenever you have clear cut evidence that a drug works, you have an ethical obligation to immediately let the people who are in the placebo group know so that they can have access.” All of the other trials that are taking place now have a “new standard of care,” he said.
The trial started on Feb. 21 and included over 1,000 patients with advanced cases of COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus from China. The patients were treated across multiple countries, including the United States.
Results will be peer-reviewed, Fauci said.
“More detailed information about the trial results, including more comprehensive data, will be available in a forthcoming report,” NIAID said in a press release.
Earlier Wednesday, a study by Chinese researchers found remdesivir had no discernible impact in terms of time to clinical improvement.
“However, the numerical reduction in time to clinical improvement in those treated earlier requires confirmation in larger studies,” researchers wrote in reporting the results in The Lancet.
Fauci called the study inadequate and “underpowered.”