Two top doctors believe an experimental drug has cured coronavirus patients in the U.S. The drug, remdesivir, was administered to a sickly American woman who tested positive for the virus on February 26.
The patient, referred by UC Davis physicians as they but has been described as a woman by California's governor and state health officials, was the first possible case of U.S. community spread detected.
The source of her infection was unknown as she had had not traveled outside the U.S. to an infected place or been in known contact with a confirmed case.
This drug is a nucleoside analog that inhibits the coronavirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RDRP). Remdesivir works against every coronavirus tested so far, as well as viruses with highly divergent RDRP sequences.
COVID-19 was caused by a new coronavirus discovered following an outbreak in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Also known as SARS-CoV-2, this has spread to more than 100 countries around the world, and has affected many thousands of people.
Remdesivir seemingly had an effect on American cruise passengers treated for the novel coronavirus in Japan. However, data are limited, according to a doctor sent to Tokyo by the U.S. government.
The woman was on the brink of death as her condition deteriorated significantly and she became critical. She then became a test subject for the drug remdesivir. Upon taking the experimental drug, the patient was now said to be "doing well."
According to George Thompson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, "We thought she was going to pass away. The day after the infusion of the drug, she consistently got better."
36 hours following the woman's admission to the hospital, doctors decided to treat her with remdesivir which was administered by intravenous drip. It cripples an enzyme named RNA polymerase which is used by many viruses to make copies of themselves.
The doctors were able to get "compassionate use permission" due to her critical condition from the FDA to test remsdesivir outside a clinical trial setting.
The medical center faced a tribulation acquiring a test for its patient and received widespread media scrutiny.
The drug was made by Gilead Sciences which is an experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drug originally designed to target Ebola. It is highly effective at fighting the novel coronavirus in isolated cells.
It has been tested on monkeys in the United States infected with MERS, a variation of coronavirus.
More tests will be required as the scientists were not able to test her blood for polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This is to aid scientists to study the state of the altered state of COVID-19 virus after treatment.
"I can't prove it's related. I wish we had been able to do serial PCR testing of her blood, but we couldn't because of lack of resources," according to Dr. Thompson.
Remdesivir is a frontrunner among the potential treatments for COVID-19 which are currently undergoing tests.
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