Antiviral drug Remdesivir 'most promising' treatment for COVID-19

An experimental antiviral drug might be the answer to treating COVID-19 patients and human clinical trials are underway across the country, including at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

The trials are in the early stages -- phase 1 -- but the results for some patients on Remdesivir appear to be promising.

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“I would say that Remdesivir is the most promising antiviral drug out there for treatment of COVID right now,” said Dr. Kami Kim, the director of the infectious disease division at USF Health. 

Dr. Kim told FOX 13 more data on its results are needed.

“They’re being vigorous, but they are evaluating the data as fast as they can comparing how people do and what the role of the drug is,” said Dr. Kim.

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The Associated Press reports California-based company Gilead Science Inc. developed the drug and realized it could have antiviral properties against types of coronaviruses in 2016. However, scientists in China have tried to patent the drug, saying they discovered it could be effective against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. 

Despite the conflict, Gilead was able to begin human trials in the United States for Remdesivir.

One of the research centers allowed to test the drug is Sarasota Memorial Hospital and doctors there said they are only using it on patients who are very sick.

“There will be patients who get better all of a sudden, and you don’t know if that’s the drug or not so you have to look at several patients,” said Dr. Kirk Voelker, medical director of the clinical research team at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, last week.

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But while the data is collected, FOX 13’s Dr. Joette Giovinco said it’s possible more than one treatment may be needed to help COVID-19 patients get better.

“I don’t think that there are going to be any magic bullets,” said Dr. Jo. “I think it’s going to be case by case, and we’re going to have to look at each individual.”

So until there’s a proven treatment, researchers are working to find out what works. 

“It’s a medical problem, but it’s also a community problem,” said Dr. Kim. “This is one of the rare infectious diseases that has touched everyone’s life.”

Gilead representatives said they are ramping up manufacturing of Remdesivir even though it isn’t approved for use yet. But it appears they are optimistic after a small group of patients in one study improved after taking the drug.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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