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‘Remdesivir has become standard for COVID-19 treatment’

Oh Myoung-don, professor of Internal Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH)
Oh Myoung-don, professor of Internal Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH)
Remdesivir, an investigational ebola treatment by US-based Gilead Sciences that is increasingly being pursued as as an effective COVID-19 treatment globally, has now become the barometer for all future coronavirus treatments, according to Seoul National University Hospital on Monday.

SNU Hospital and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, are two clinical trial sites for remdesivir in Korea included 73 sites across the world.

“This NIH clinical research proves remdesivir as the first effective COVID-19 treatment,” said professor Oh Myoung-don of SNUH’s internal medicine division.

“From now, all development pursuits for COVID-19 therapy must prove their efficacy in comparison to remdesivir,” Oh said through a press release.

Remdesivir of course has room for improvement, Oh reasoned. In the history of anti-human immunodeficiency virus drugs, after the first treatment there followed continued efforts to improve on the first mover’s efficacy and safety.

NIH’s remdesivir clinical trials provided a “proof of concept,” after which second and third generation drugs that will better inhibit the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase will be developed, Oh said.

Led by US’ National Institute of Health, 73 institutes across 10 nations took part in global clinical trials of remdesivir targeting over 1,000 COVID-19 patients.

From the US, 45 institutes participated, with the rest comprising institutes from Denmark, the UK, Greece, Germany, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Japan and Singapore.

NIH distributed remdesivir to the designated sites, mixing placebo to blind-test the drug’s true efficacy.

In a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of intravenous remdesivir among 1,063 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 across 10 nations, 200 milligrams of intravenous remdesivir administration for the first day, followed by a 100 milligrams maintenance dose given from the second day to the 10th, or until hospital discharge or death, showed that those given remdesivir recovered 31 percent faster than those given placebo. The median number of days to recovery had shortened from 15 days to 11 days.

Based on the findings from these trials, conducted between Feb. 21 and April 19, the US Food and Drug Administration had made remdesivir available under an emergency-use authorization for the treatment of adults and children with severe COVID-19 disease from May 1.

The full script of the study explaining the mode and results of the global clinical trial was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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