Remdesivir: how does it change things?

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump.

CNN: April 29th

It this time remdesivir is not yet FDA approved, but it will be ‘fast-tracked’.

The announcement came in a letter from Gilead (ticker: GILD) CEO Daniel O’Day, issued on Saturday. O’Day said the company was working to boost production of remdesivir, cutting the amount of time it takes to produce the drug from a year to six months. He said the company aimed to have 500,000 treatment courses manufactured by October, and 1 million by the end of 2020.

Barrons.com

So that covers the main headlines of ‘maybe it significantly helps recovery’, and availability: ‘potentially could be available for most US cases requiring ventilatory support’.

Note: there was also a study conducted in China that detected no measurable benefit. Of course, given that the drug could be administered at different times during a patients illness and in different doses, unless a all these things were the same, the results are not necessarily conflicting. There may be a way that Remdesivir does not work, and another way that Remdesivir does provide real benefits. It is too early for final conclusions, but it is also too early to give up hope.

The benefit promoted is a decreased recovery period from 15 days to 11 days. It would be logical to assume this would also result in decreased mortality rates, but again more testing is needed.

The best possible outcome is a reduction in deaths, and an increased hospital patient number capacity due to the faster recovery time.

There is no prospect that the threat of serious illness or death from Covid-19 is fully eliminated. There is no prospect that significantly higher case rates may be in future acceptable due to this treatment.

So as a “game changer”, there seems little prospect that rules on lockdowns and distancing should change because of this drug. The biggest downside risk is that some people do take a more relaxed attitude, in which case news of the treatment, rather than the treatment itself, could cost lives.

The positive game changes possibility is that with Remdesivir as a treatment option, provided measures are not further relaxed, there is the potential to save thousands and perhaps even tens of thousands of lives.

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