Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Wednesday touted the results of trial examining an experimental drug treatment for the novel coronavirus, calling it “good news” as he spoke in the Oval Office alongside President Donald Trump.
A randomized, international trial of the drug remdesivir had resulted in “quite good news,” 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, which sponsored the trial.
“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci said, calling the development “very optimistic.”
The trial had 1,063 patients spread across 22 countries, including the U.S., and the first participant was an American who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship wracked by the virus that was docked in Japan earlier this year, according to the NIAID.
It had not yet been peer-reviewed but was being submitted to a journal for review, Fauci said as he previewed the results. Experts interviewed by ABC News urged caution until the full data was released.
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Fauci said the data so far showed the drug, made by the biotech company Gilead Sciences, had “a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.”
For those who took the drug, Fauci said, it took less time to recover, averaging 11 days compared to 15 days for those in a control group who received a placebo.
Fauci said the data represented “a very important proof of concept” — showing that a drug could, in fact, “block” COVID-19.