Anti-viral drug remdesivir cuts recovery times in coronavirus patients, according to the full results of a trial published Friday night, three weeks after America's top infectious diseases expert said the study showed the medication has "clear-cut" benefits.
Complete results from the research, which was carried out by the U.S.' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), were published by leading medical periodical the New England Journal of Medicine.
The United States authorized the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals on May 1, followed by Japan, while Europe is considering following suit.
The study found that remdesivir, injected intravenously daily for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalized COVID-19 patients compared with a placebo in clinical tests on just over a thousand patients across 10 countries.
On April 29, NIAID director Anthony Fauci, who has become the U.S. government's trusted face on the coronavirus pandemic, said preliminary evidence indicated remdesivir had a "clear-cut, significant and positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."
The National Institutes of Health, of which the NIAID is a part, said Friday in a statement online that investigators found "remdesivir was most beneficial for hospitalized patients with severe disease who required supplemental oxygen." But the authors of the trial wrote that the drug did not prevent all deaths.
"Given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an anti-viral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient," they said. About 7.1% of patients given remdesivir in the trial group died within 14 days – compared with 11.9% in the placebo group.
However, the result is just below the statistical reliability threshold, meaning it could be down to chance rather than the capability of the drug.