New Drug To Treat Covid-19

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The pharmaceutical company Gilead is now sponsoring tests of their anti-viral drug Remdesivir in 2400 patients with severe Wuhan virus symptoms in 152 hospitals and clinics worldwide, and in 1600 patients with moderate symptoms at 169 sites worldwide. This drug intercalates itself into the DNA to try to disrupt the virus growth. It did not perform well in the inhibition of another RNA virus, Ebola, when it was trialed in multinational compassionate use during the Africa pandemic outbreak in 2014. A University of Chicago investigator reports data on the performance of this drug is preliminary. Those of us anxiously awaiting drug trial results must acknowledge that it typically takes multiple years and a billion dollars to bring a drug through rigorous testing. Streamlining the FDA approval process is a Herculean task. The legal hurdles and compliance requirements alone can take months. Rank and file patients awaiting magic drugs, off-label use medications, antibody tests, or vaccines to materialize have to recognize that sweeping away scientific rigor on safety, efficacy, specificity and sensitivity aren’t prudent. Government facilitation in recent weeks to allow companies to roll out new tests has facilitated many but we must keep in mind that cries for “more testing” must first acknowledge that the very tests we need were not even invented a few weeks ago. The swabs weren’t even produced, let alone established pathways to test. The reagents need to be scaled up and distributed, and machines need to be created, verified, calibrated and deployed. The native response is, “why does it have to be this way?” Why, indeed.

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