Scientists on Wednesday announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus — an experimental drug that can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients — in a major medical advance.
The U.S. government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible.
“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert. “This will be the standard of care.”
The virus has killed over 220,000 people worldwide, including more than 60,000 confirmed deaths in the U.S.
California-based biotech company Gilead Sciences and the U.S. government reported that in a major study, remdesivir shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover by four days on average — from 15 days to 11. Also, a trend toward fewer deaths was seen among those on the drug, Fauci said.
The study was run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and involved 1,063 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world.
An effective treatment could have a profound effect on the outbreak, since a vaccine is probably a year or more away.