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US expert Fauci upbeat on virus drug

The top US health expert on infectious diseases has hailed the latest study on the antiviral drug remdesivir, saying it has shown positive outcomes for patients with the coronavirus.

Speaking at the White House just hours after Gilead Sciences first indicated it had positive data, Anthony Fauci said the study was a “very important proof of concept” that “a drug can block this virus”.

He explained that the drug stops an enzyme that the virus utilises.

“The data shows remdesivir has a clear cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said, later adding that this was a 31-per-cent improvement in terms of hospilisation time.

The study – which was sponsored by Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – was a randomised, placebo-controlled trial in the US and several European countries, involving more than 1090 people in hospital, he said.

Gilead stocks moved higher on Wednesday after the company announced before the opening bell that it was aware that “positive data” was being released.

Remdesivir is not approved for use yet. It was initially developed for Ebola but was never brought into regular use or approved.

A study from China, which leaked last week, had shown the drug was not effective against the coronavirus but Fauci said the scientific methods of that research were not randomised or controlled.

Originally published as US expert Fauci upbeat on virus drug

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