Have doctors found a coronavirus wonder drug? Two experts reveal how experimental antiviral remdesivir saved one woman who was in critical condition and helped 14 infected Diamond Princess passengers
- Doctors have treated more than a dozen American coronavirus patients with remdesivir – an experimental antiviral drug
- The drug was administered to a critically ill California woman who contracted COVID-19 through ‘community spread’
- Her team of physicians believed she was going to die from the disease, before she made a remarkable turnaround
- Similarly, 14 sickly US passengers from Diamond Princess were treated with remdesivir in Japan
- Doctors also believed that all 14 of the elderly patients would die, but half of them have since made a complete recovery
- Medics admit more research needs to be done in regards to the efficacy of remdesivir, as well as its long-term side effects
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Two top doctors believe an experimental drug has helped save the lives of American coronavirus patients
George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center, was part of the team that administered the drug, remdesivir, to a sickly American woman who tested positive for the virus on February 26.
‘We thought they were going to pass away,’ Thompson told Science magazine Friday about the patient – who was the first known ‘community spread’ case in the United States.
However, 36 hours after the woman was admitted to hospital, doctors decided to treat the woman with remdesivir, which is given by intravenous drip and ‘cripples an enzyme named RNA polymerase – used by many viruses to copy themselves’.
Two top doctors believe an experimental drug has helped save the lives of American coronavirus patients. George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center, is pictured at left. Richard Childs, an assistant surgeon general and lung specialist at the National Institutes of Health, is seen at right.
The patients were treated with remdesivir, which is given by intravenous drip and ‘cripples an enzyme named RNA polymerase – used by many viruses to copy themselves’. A stock image is pictured
Because the patient was in critical condition, the doctors were able to get ‘compassionate use permission’ from the FDA to test remsdesivir outside a clinical trial setting.
Within a day, the woman saw a drop in her ‘viral load’ and her condition began to improve.
Thomson did not reveal whether the patient has been discharged from the hospital due to privacy concerns, but stated that she is ‘doing well’.
Similarly, remsdesivir helped 14 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus after travelling on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Richard Childs, an assistant surgeon general and lung specialist at the National Institutes of Health, told The Wall Street Journal Friday that the patients were treated with the experimental drug in a Japanese hospital.
Childs described the patients as ‘critically ill people and their average age is 75’.
‘Many of them were probably going to die in a short amount of time, and two weeks later nobody has died and more than half of them have recovered. It’s just absolutely amazing,’ he remarked.
Remsdesivir helped 14 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus after travelling on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship
Coronavirus cases have continued to rise in the US, with 2653 testing positive as of Saturday afternoon
However, both doctors concede that more testing needs to be done in regards to remsdesivir.
Thompson says the drug could cause liver toxicity in certain patients, and says other companies have also been coming forward with experimental drugs that may also be effective.
Meanwhile, Childs says of remsdesivir: ‘It’s going to take us a while to figure out what the impact of the drug has been’.
However, a ‘randomized, controlled clinical trial’ to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the remdesivir in hospitalized adults diagnosed with coronavirus has begun at the University of Nebraska, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Other companies have been coming forward with experimental drugs that may also be effective in the fight against coronavirus
Cases have spiked in the United States over the past few weeks, due to rapid spread and increase in testing