An experimental drug called remdesivir “significantly reduced” the CCP virus in monkeys, according to a study released on Friday.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged from mainland China last year, causes the disease COVID-19. Fears of the spread of the virus has forced the United States into a near-total lockdown, though some states this week announced plans to start reopening soon.
Remdesivir significantly reduced both clinical disease and damage to the lungs of rhesus macaques infected with the CCP virus, according to scientists of the National Institutes of Health.
The study was not peer reviewed and shouldn’t be considered clinical advice, the government agency stressed, “but are being shared to assist the public health response to COVID-19.”
“These data support early remdesivir treatment initiation in COVID-19 patients to prevent progression to severe pneumonia,” the researchers wrote. A researcher with Gilead Sciences, which produces remdesivir, collaborated on the study.
Researchers took two groups of the monkeys, giving one group remdesivir and the other group nothing. Both groups were infected with the virus. Twelve hours later, the treatment group received a dose of remdesivir intravenously before getting a booster dose every day for the next six days.
Just 12 hours after the initial treatment, scientists found the six treated animals in significantly better health than the untreated group. Only one of the six had difficulty breathing, while all six of the untreated monkeys struggled to breathe. That trend continued throughout the study.
Researchers also found the amount of virus found in the lungs was significantly lower in the treatment group versus the six that were not treated and that the virus caused less damage in the lungs in the treated animals.
There is currently no vaccine or proven treatment for the CCP virus. Remdesivir is perhaps the treatment researchers are most optimistic about, along with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. A recent study also found that remdesivir helped patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
But little conclusive data is available yet for either potential treatment. Both are being used on COVID-19 patients across the United States and elsewhere and both are in clinical trials.
Results for other remdesivir studies in humans are expected sometime this month.