Gilead Sciences' therapeutic antiviral drug remdesivir administered in the early stages of infection prevented lung damage in macaque monkeys, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature. Remdesivir is also the first drug that proved to be somewhat effective against Covid-19 in human trials.
So far, remdesivir has shown mixed results in the late stage study of people with moderate COVID-19. However, countries across the globe are closely watching for more advanced-stage results of the drug, even as a treatment or vaccine for the deadly coronavirus is yet to be found.
Macaque Monkeys Respond to Remdesivir
In the study published on Tuesday, 12 monkeys were deliberately infected with the new coronavirus. Following that, six monkeys were given early treatments of remdesivir intravenously. The study showed that those monkeys that received early doses of the drug did not show signs of respiratory disease and suffered less lung damage.
SARS-CoV-2 is known to severely affect the lungs and is fatal for people with chronic respiratory diseases. However, the article 'Clinical benefit of remdesivir in rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2' said that the experiment on monkeys doesn't represent the severe disease observed in a large number of Covid-19 patients and the data supports only the early remdesivir treatment initiated in coronavirus infected patients to prevent them from pneumonia.
Authors Recommend Remdesivir as Effective Treatment
The details of remdesivir trial on monkeys were earlier released in April U.S. National Institutes of Health. However, the study wasn't reviewed by the peers at that time, which is required for a research study. The authors have now suggested that remdesivir should be considered an immediate treatment on Covid-19 affected patients to prevent the progression of pneumonia among them.
"Effective therapeutics to treat Covid-19 is urgently needed. While many investigational, approved, and repurposed drugs have been suggested, preclinical data from animal models can guide the search for effective treatments by ruling out treatments without in vivo efficacy," the authors said in the report. Remdesivir has been cleared in many countries including the United States, South Korea and India for emergency use in severely-ill Covid-19 patients.
Many European countries too have been using the drug. Remdesivir is being closely watched after the FDA granted emergency use authorization last month, citing results from another study run by the National Institutes of Health that showed the therapeutic drug reduced hospitalization by almost 31 percent, or about four days, compared to a placebo.