Coronavirus: US Announces A Medical Breakthrough, Not A Vaccine

SRINAGAR: With a vaccine far away, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has finally made public the drug that is potent against the Coronavirus. The Institute head Dr Anthony Fauci made the statement in the White House.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation tankers spraying disinfectants in various areas of Srinagar on April 29, 2020. Pertinently, dozens of areas of the city have been declared red zones by the district administration. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

“Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover,” Voice of America quoted Fauci saying. “A drug can block this virus.”

The announcement was made on basis of an international randomized placebo control trial that Fauci’s institute started on February 21 involving hundreds of hospitalized Coronavirus patients. Recovery time was 11 days for those given the drug compared with 15 days for patients given a placebo.

“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, and all of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care,” Fauci said.

While not a “knockout,” Fauci was quoted saying by The Washington Post that shows an important and promising avenue for further study. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

“The NIAID study is the most rigorous test to date of the potential treatment because it is a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the gold standard for seeing whether a drug is safe and effective,” the newspaper added. “The drug must be given intravenously over five to 10 days, and the NIAID trial results apply only to hospitalized patients. Remdesivir is not intended for use in the majority of patients, estimated to be 80 per cent or more, who are infected with the novel Coronavirus but do not require hospitalization.”

Remdesivir, it said, can have serious side effects, according to previous trial results, including loss of kidney function and declining blood pressure. “Those symptoms are caused by severe cases of covid-19, as well, making it difficult to determine which problems were caused by the drug and which by the illness,” it reported.

Manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Remdesivir is given intravenously and designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material, the VoA reported. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day was quoted by the newsgatherer Bloomberg saying that more than 50,000 courses of the company’s experimental Covid-19 therapy, packed in vials and ready to ship as soon as the drug is authorized for emergency use by U.S. regulators

“In animal tests against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, it has helped prevent infection and reduced severity of symptoms. But it is not yet approved anywhere in the world for any use,” it added. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has not yet granted emergency-use authorization for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

The pandemic has so far killed 228270 people across the world as more than a million people infected by the virus have recovered. Right now the world has around two million active cases in hospitals or at home. The US alone has lost 61669 people so far.

Interestingly, the announcement has led the stock markets started bouncing back across the globe. The marks and the societies across the world are desperate for a glimmer of hope and the US announcement is just the beginning of it.

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