By Ann Frances –
UC Irvine researchers are now testing an antiviral drug that, if proven effective, may be used to treat patients who have contracted COVID-19. Remdesivir, produced by Foster City, CA-based Gilead Sciences, has previously been tested on humans for Ebola. It also was tested, with promising results, on animals for SARS and MERS. The manufacturer was featured in a March 22 segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Considered a broad-spectrum anti-viral, it is hoped that remdesivir testing may lead to a treatment for COVID-19.
At the helm of the experimental drug test is UC Irvine Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Alpesh Amin. Amin said in an interview with KABC News that he’s confident that the drug trial will further the fight against COVID-19.
“I’m very confident that we will win this and get on top of this,” he said.
UC Irvine is a designated testing center along with 16 other U.S.-based research hospitals – all part of this National Institutes of Health study. The remaining test centers are in the Republic of Korea and Singapore. Testing centers will administer remdesivir to those patients who have already tested positive for COVID-19 and who consent to take part in the trial.
The drug is administered intravenously with one dose a day for a period of 10 days. Testing centers will observe patient symptoms for signs of improvement and will send the data, along with lengths of hospital stays, whether or not they required intubation, and other factors, to the NIH.
The study began on Feb. 21. It’s estimated that 394 patients will ultimately participate. Final study completion, however, is not expected until April 1, 2023, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.