SAN ANTONIO – Early results of a COVID-19 treatment study being conducted in San Antonio showed a faster recovery time and fewer deaths for patients on the new therapy.
The study involving the drug, remdesivir, is being conducted at dozens of study sites throughout the U.S., including two sites in San Antonio, and a few international locations.
According to a news release, the study included patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19. One group of patients received remdesivir and the other group received a placebo. Neither doctors nor patients know which agent the patients were receiving.
Preliminary results show that patients who received the new antiviral drug had a 31% faster recovery time (11 days) than those who received the placebo (15 days). Recovery is defined as being well enough to be discharged from the hospital or returning to normal activities. The death rate for patients on remdesivir was 8% compared to 11.6% for those on placebo.
“We’re thrilled that the drug is showing such good results so early,” said Dr. Thomas Patterson, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Health San Antonio and principal investigator of the study site for patients at University Hospital. “This important clinical trial showed improved recovery time and reduced mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection.”
The clinical trial included 1,063 patients and began Feb. 21 in the U.S., and on March 26 at University Hospital.
“I am so proud of our research team at UT Health San Antonio and our partners at University Hospital who helped set up this study within days of our being notified that we were going to be included in the trial,” said Patterson, who also is leading the COVID-19 Infectious Disease team at University Health System.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the clinical trial, the first one launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH director and a lead member of President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, was also pleased with the results.
“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci said. “This will be the standard of care,” and any other potential treatments will now have to be tested against or in combination with remdesivir, he said.
More data from the study will be available in a forthcoming report. As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as appropriate.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.
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