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Coronavirus: Remdesivir antiviral drug reduces recovery time from COVID-19, says study

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Coronavirus: Remdesivir antiviral drug reduces recovery time from COVID-19, says study
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A potential coronavirus treatment has shown success in speeding up the recovery time in people with severe COVID-19, a major US study has shown.

Patients with coronavirus treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir recovered in 11 days compared to 15 days for those who received a placebo.

That means patients treated with the drug had a 31 per cent faster recovery time than those who received a placebo.

The new study, sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health, began in February and included 1,063 patients in the US, Europe, and Asia.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the study.

"Although a 31 per cent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100 per cent... what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Fauci added.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci speak during a meeting on coronavirus at the White HouseAP Photo/Evan VucciEvan Vucci

The study also showed a potential reduction in death.

Patients in the group treated with remdesivir had a mortality rate of 8 per cent versus 11.6 per cent for the placebo group.

Remdesivir interferes with an enzyme that helps RNA viruses to replicate and has been shown to be successful against coronaviruses in laboratory studies.

It was initially developed to help treat Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa.

There are several major global studies of the drug which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences in the United States.

Remdesivir is also one of several antivirals being tested in the European clinical "Discovery" study which is looking at experimental treatments deemed priorities by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A much smaller study that did not include a control group also showed success when 60 per cent of severely ill COVID-19 patients recovered when treated with remdesivir.