Ebola drug found to improve recovery time for COVID-19 patients

A summary of research published in the New England Journal of Medicine

An antiviral drug, called remdesivir, has been shown to shorten the recovery time for people infected with COVID-19.

The drug, originally developed as a potential treatment for Ebola, is currently being tested in a major trial to look at whether it can be effective in the fight against COVID-19. While the trial is still ongoing, the first results have now been published.

What did the study look at?

The main aim of this study was to look at whether the drug could shorten the time it takes to recover from COVID-19. It also looked at side-effects from the drug and the number of deaths during the trial.

This study included 1,059 people with COVID-19 from the USA, Europe and Asia. 538 people were given remdesivir for 10 days,and the remaining 521 people were given a mock drug (placebo) for the same time period. The researchers compared the effects between the two groups by  monitoring their symptoms every day, how the disease was progressing and if they experienced any side effects.

What do the results show?

The findings suggested that people taking remdesivir recover quicker than those who do not. In the study, the people taking the drug took an average of 11 days to recover, compared to 15 days for the people who took the mock drug.

When looking at potential side effects, 114 out of 541 people taking remdesivir experienced unexpected medical problems, that may or not may not have been linked to the drug. The researchers analysed these problems and determined that two of them were related to taking remdesivir.

The study found that death rates between the two group did not show a significant difference.

Why is this important?

The results are significant as they confirm that remdesivir can be used as a treatment to shorten a person’s recovery time from COVID-19. Countries such as the USA, Japan and the UK have authorised the use of the drug in the fight against COVID-19. The authors of this study suggest that more research is needed to look at the use of remdesivir alongside other treatments to see whether a combination of drugs could have an impact on reducing deaths from COVID-19.

Read the original research paper

Remdesivir for the Treatment of Covid-19 — Preliminary Report