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Coronavirus cure: Could ebola drug Remdesivir be used to treat COVID-19?

US President Donald Trump recently started using hydroxychloroquine as a preventative cure to coronavirus. However, amid growing safety concerns, a clinical trial on the drug by the World Health Organisation has been suspended. The drug has been repeatedly endorsed by world leaders including Donald Trump and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

Could ebola drug Remdesivir be used to treat COVID-19?

Remdesivir is an experimental, anti-viral drug which was initially intended as a potential treatment for ebola.

The drug was quickly pushed through clinical trials during the west African Ebola outbreak of 2013-15 after showing promising results in the lab.

Remdesivir has been revived as a potential answer to COVID-19 after displaying promising results during the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreaks.

The drug has now been approved for use by the NHS, meaning it could be a potential solution to the pandemic.

Trials show that remdesivir helps hospitalised patients recover from coronavirus almost a third faster.


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Early data shows the drug could cut the risk of dying from COVID-19 by 31 percent, but these findings are still inconclusive.

A statement from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency suggests that patients could be granted early access.

The statement read: “Early results from clinical studies have shown that remdesivir reduced the time of recovery from 15 days to 11 days in patients with severe COVID-19.

“It could also possibly reduce the proportion of people doing from COVID-19.


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“Therefore, remdesivir is being made available for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 disease.”

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that the UK Government is working with US manufacturer Gilead to roll out the drug to some NHS patients.

A global clinical trial which began at the beginning of this month involves an estimated 1,000 patients from hospitals in the UK, US, France, Italy and China.

It was recently reported that a young boy, 14, from Ipswich had been treated with remdesivir after contracting the virus and his condition worsened.

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The teenager woke up from his coma and is now on his way back to being fully healthy.

Experts are now calling for donations as they launch major trials to assess the effectiveness of the drug.

Professor Martin Landray from the University of Oxford said: “There’s a lot of interest in convalescent plasma essentially, think of it as a sort of antibody transplant, if you like.”

Other experts have come out to say remdesivir is “the most promising drug on offer at the moment”.

Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds said the drug is unaffected by safe guarding proteins, unlike other potential drugs out there.

Dr Griffin said: “We can instead hope for improved recovery rates and a reduction in patient mortality, which we hope will benefit as many patients as possible.

“More pronounced benefit is likely to be seen when treating patients with less severe disease, ideally before they require invasive respiratory support.

“But, this will only follow once the drug is more widely available and will be guided by the final outcomes of ongoing placebo-controlled trials.”

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  • Posted on May 26, 2020