The University of Chicago has just concluded a drug test on 125 people with Covid-19. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of Gilead Science drug called remdesivir. Remdesivir was developed to try and fight Ebola and while somewhat effective it wasn't as effective as some other drugs, so it's been sitting on shelves for the past few years.
Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies says; “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish! When we start the drug, we see fever curves falling. We do see when patients do come in with high fevers, they do drop quite quickly. We have also seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. So, in that realm, overall our patients have done very well. 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. We have very few that went out to 10 days, maybe three of them".
This is just the first of many trials. Gilead’s severe Covid-19 study includes 2,400 participants from 152 different clinical trial sites all over the world. Its moderate Covid-19 study includes 1,600 patients in 169 different centers, also from all over the world.
Slawomir Michalak, a 57-year-old factory worker who ended up in the hospital with coronavirus after he developed a 104 degree fever and had lots of trouble breathing. He took his first dose of remdesivir on Saturday, April 4. “My fever dropped almost immediately and I started to feel better”.
On Sunday he took his second dose. He then came off of oxygen. He received two more infusions of remdesivir, one on Sunday and another on Monday and was discharged Tuesday, April 7!
“Remdesivir was a miracle,” according to Slawomir.