Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

A vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States in this March photo.

The Associated Press

A top U.S. health official said Gilead Sciences Inc’s experimental antiviral drug remdesivir is likely to become the standard of care for COVID-19 after early results from a key clinical trial on Wednesday showed it helped certain patients recover more quickly from the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Preliminary results from a U.S. government trial show that patients given remdesivir had a 31 per cent faster recovery time than those who received a placebo, results hailed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, as “highly significant.”

Gilead earlier on Wednesday said remdesivir helped improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19 in the government-run trial, and provided additional data suggesting it worked better when given earlier in the course of illness, sending its shares up more than 7 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover. This is really quite important,” Fauci told reporters at the White House, likening it to a moment in 1986 “when we were struggling for drugs for HIV and we had nothing.”

“This will be the standard of care,” Fauci predicted, adding, “The FDA, literally as we speak, is working with Gilead to figure out mechanisms to make this easily available to those who need it.”

The closely watched drug has moved markets in the past few weeks following the release of several studies that painted a mixed picture of its effectiveness, and Fauci cautioned that the full data still needs to be analyzed.

President Donald Trump during a White House meeting greeted Gilead’s reports as good news.

Interest in Gilead’s drug has been high as there are currently no approved treatments or preventive vaccines for COVID-19, and doctors are desperate for anything that might alter the course of the disease that attacks the lungs and can shut down other organs in severe cases, until a preventive vaccine emerges.

“There’s now enough data to support consideration of access under an emergency use authorization by FDA,” former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Twitter.

Gilead provided information on two clinical trials. The study conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, met its main goal of helping patients with a range of severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Story continues below advertisement

Those results have been highly anticipated because it compares how patients who received remdesivir fared versus those given a placebo, meaning it should definitively demonstrate whether the drug provides benefit.

“It is the first truly high-powered randomized placebo-controlled trial,” Fauci said.

The trial’s lead researcher told Reuters on Friday that full results could come by mid-May.

’GLIMMER OF HOPE’

Despite the excitement, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, global fellow at The Wilson Center in Washington, DC, said more information is needed.

“While a new study offers a glimmer of hope that ... remdesivir has an effect against COVID-19, determination of its benefit for the general population must await release of pertinent details to evaluate the study’s findings and scientific analysis comparing them to other studies of the drug that have shown mixed results,” he said in a statement.

Gilead also provided data on a study in severe COVID-19 patients it has conducted in dozens of medical centers, which does not have a placebo comparison but tested the drug given by intravenous infusion under five-day and 10-day regimens.

Story continues below advertisement

In that 397-patient trial, Gilead said 62 per cent of patients treated early with remdesivir were discharged from the hospital, compared with 49 per cent of patients who were treated later in the course of the infection.

Gilead Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey in a statement said a five-day regimen, “could significantly expand the number of patients who could be treated with our current supply of remdesivir.”

Also on Wednesday, results were published by the Lancet medical journal of a trial conducted in China that concluded remdesivir failed to improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream. Gilead said previously that those findings, released inadvertently by the World Health Organization last week, were inconclusive because the study was terminated early.

Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day earlier this month said the company was prepared to donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir to hospitals dealing with severely ill patients. Regulatory approval of the drug would also clear the way for commercial sales.

Remdesivir, which previously failed as a treatment for Ebola, is being tried against COVID-19 because it is designed to disable the mechanism by which certain viruses make copies of themselves and potentially overwhelm their host’s immune system.

The company is also studying the drug in patients with less severe COVID-19, but those results are not expected until later next month.

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies