13:16 GMT19 January 2021
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    Antiviral drug remdesivir, which is being experimentally used to treat COVID-19 coronavirus patients in Chicago, Illinois, has shown promising results by reducing fever and other respiratory symptoms in under a week.

    The drug was developed by Gilead Sciences and has been shown in studies to be effective at inhibiting the growth of coronavirus that cause illnesses similar to COVID-19, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The drug was initially developed as a potential treatment for Ebola. However, it failed to treat the disease, which causes severe bleeding and organ failure.

    According to STAT News, 125 patients in Chicago were given daily infusions of remdesivir, 113 of whom were experiencing severe symptoms of the coronavirus.

    “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” Kathleen Mullane, a University of Chicago infectious disease specialist, told STAT News.

    “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," she added.

    Remdesivir was one of the first drugs to be identified as a potential treatment for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19. Other remdesivir trials to determine its effectiveness at treating COVID-19 are being carried out in China for people with mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms.

    In a statement on Thursday, Gilead commented on the findings: “What we can say at this stage is that we look forward to data from ongoing studies becoming available.” The study results are expected to be completed by April 27. It’s unclear when the findings will be published.

    However, despite remdesivir’s potential, Mullane warned people not to draw too many fast conclusions about the drug.

    “It’s always hard,” she said, noting that the trial at the University of Chicago doesn’t include a placebo group. “But certainly when we start [the] drug, we see fever curves falling. Fever is now not a requirement for people to go on trial, we do see when patients do come in with high fevers, they do [reduce] quite quickly. We have seen people come off ventilators a day after starting therapy. So, in that realm, overall our patients have done very well.”

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    University of Chicago, patients, drug, COVID-19, coronavirus
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