Is Gilead’s “Remdesivir” the Magical Drug Against Coronavirus?


Is Gilead’s “Remdesivir” the Magical Drug Against Coronavirus?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Gilead Sciences Inc’s shares jumped by 16% in after-hours trading after encouraging reports from trials of the US company’s drug remdesivir among severe Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with Covid-19 (113 of those severe) into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir. “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital.

Remdesivir is being studied in multiple clinical trials across categories of patients and results are expected later this month.

Favipiravir, that works the same way as remdesivir and galidesivir showed activity in a study of Covid-19 patients in China. There’s a decent chance that one or more these drugs might prove effective against  the coronavirus.

One patient with a fever of 104 and shortness of breath says after one dose of remdesivir, “My fever dropped almost immediately & I started to feel better.” By his 2nd dose, he was being weaned off oxygen. After two more doses he was discharged. “Remdesivir was a miracle,” he said.

While the positive development was a breath of fresh air among medical circles after a grim few weeks, many have hinted that the preliminary data should be taken with a grain of salt, and we must hold our horses.

Gilead issued a statement demanding caution, stating that “The totality of the data needs 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.”

All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope Gilead delivers some good news that the world could desperately use right now.