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Coronavirus: Gilead says remdesivir trial showed positive results with early treatment

Gilead Sciences provided a possible ray of hope in the fight against coronavirus, when the biotech giant said Wednesday that a trial involving its antiviral drug remdesivir resulted in improved conditions for patients when given a five-day dosage of the medication.

Gilead Sciences provided a possible ray of hope in the fight against coronavirus, when the biotech giant said Wednesday that a trial involving its antiviral drug remdesivir resulted in improved conditions for patients when given a five-day dosage of the medication.

Foster City-based Gilead said that the clinical trial involved 397 patients with severe cases of COVID-19 who were divided into two groups and given remdesivir in five- and 10-day dosage regimens. Gilead said that while patients in both groups showed improvements in the symptoms, those who were given remdesiver sooner exhibited a a quicker response to the treatments. Gilead said 64.5% of patients that were given the five-day treatment were discharged from the hospital within 14 days, compared to 53.8% of patients on the 10-day remdesivir course.

Aruna Subramanian, a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, and one of the lead investigators of the study, said that even though more data is needed to truly evaluate remdesivir as a treatment for coronavirus, “these results help to bring a clearer understanding of how treatment with remdesivir may be optimized, if proven safe and effective.”

In announcing its findings, Gilead stressed that remdesivir has not yet been licensed or approved for regular usage anywhere in the world. However, Merdad Parsey, chief medical officer of Gilead, said, “The study demonstrates the potential for some patients to be treated with a five-day regimen, which could significantly expand the number of patients who could be treated with our current supply of remdesivir.”

Gilead said it would submit the full results of its study for evaluation in a peer-reviewed medical journal in the coming weeks.

Medical officials have said it will likely be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. Because of that, Gilead and other biotech and pharmaceutical companies have been racing to find medications that can at the very least treat coronavirus symptoms and improve the rate of recovery from the disease.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, coronavirus had infected more than 3 million people around the world, and killed more than 217,000 as of Wednesday morning.

In California, 46,361 people had been infected with COVID-19, and 1,864 had died of the disease by Tuesday afternoon, according an analysis by this news organization of coronavirus data reported by counties across the state.

Word of Gilead’s upbeat treatment results lifted the company’s share price by 2.4%, to $80.56 in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday.