Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is hailing the early results of a trial examining an experimental drug treatment for the novel coronavirus as "good news."
Gilead Sciences's Remdesivir would be the first treatment to pass such a test against the virus, which has killed more than 218,000 people since it emerged late last year.
Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Ebola, but didn't have much success. It has never been used since.
A randomized, international trial of the drug Remdesivir had resulted in shortening the period patients experienced symptoms and potentially slightly reducing the mortality rate, according to Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Arnold Weg was just about to get put on a ventilator when doctors at NY Presbyterian Cornell Hospital thought to try a combination of two drugs. One to take fluids out of his lungs - the other called Remdisivir.
Preliminary data now released from the study shows that patients who took a placebo took 15 days to recover.
It took the Remdisivir patients 11 days. That is a 31 percent improvement.
A 31 percent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout, but what is has proven is that a drug can block the virus.
Dr. Barry Zingman at Montefiore Medical Center says they have 91 patients enrolled in the Remdisivir trial.
Remdesivir is given through an IV and is designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material. In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough in the course of illness. But it is not yet approved anywhere in the world for any use.