'Exciting' coronavirus drug hailed by Donald Trump is helping sick patients heal

A potential coronavirus treatment branded ‘exciting’ by Donald Trump has been shown to help extremely sick Covid-19 patients discover from the disease. Patients given antiviral drug Remdesivir were all able to leave hospital less than a week after beginning a course of the experimental medicine, despite displaying severe respiratory symptoms and fever.

Dr Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist leading a Remdesivir trial for the University of Chicago said: ‘The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish.’ Speaking to medical news website STAT, Dr Mullane added: ‘Most of our patients are severe and most of them are leaving at six days, so that tells us duration of therapy doesn’t have to be 10 days.’

Remdesivir is an experimental drug originally created to try and treat Ebola, with limited success. But it was later shown to prove effective at treating viruses closely related to Covid-19, including Sars and Mers. Its manufacturer Gilead is sponsoring trials for 2,400 patients with severe symptoms at 152 sites around the world.

Announcing plans to try Remdesivir as a potential Covid-19 treatment at a press conference last month, President Trump said: ‘It could have a very positive effect, or a positive effect, maybe not very, but maybe positive. It’s very, very exciting.’

But both Gilead and the University of Chicago have said that a lot more research needs to be undertaken and studied before Remdesivir can be hailed as a silver bullet at tackling coronavirus.

A University of Chicago spokesman sought to distance the establishment from Dr Mullane’s comments, saying: ‘Partial data from an ongoing clinical trial is by definition incomplete and should never be used to draw conclusions about the safety or efficacy of a potential treatment that is under investigation.

‘In this case, information from an internal forum for research colleagues concerning work in progress was released without authorization. Drawing any conclusions at this point is premature and scientifically unsound.’

Meanwhile, a Gilead spokesman told CNN: ‘The totality of the data need to be analyzed in order to draw any conclusions from the trial. Anecdotal reports, while encouraging, do not provide the statistical power necessary to determine the safety and efficacy profile of remdesivir as a treatment for Covid-19.’

Around 680,000 people in the US have so-far been diagnosed with coronavirus, with close to 35,000 dying while infected with Covid-19.

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