For the first time, a major study suggests that an experimental drug works against the new coronavirus, and U.S. government officials say they will work to make it available to appropriate patients as quickly as possible.
In a study of 1,063 patients sick enough to be hospitalized, Gilead Sciences' remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31% - 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care, officials said. The drug also might be reducing deaths, although that's not certain from the partial results revealed so far.
Mike DeWan, of Montgomery County, credits the drug with saving his life.
DeWan battled COVID-19 for 17 days on a ventilator. His wife Kelly was by his side every step of the way.
The drug was originally developed to treat Ebola. When the doctors gave the family the option to use it, Kelly didn't hesitate.
"He was so sick at the time that it was almost like a no brainer. We just needed to do anything and to see if we could save him," said Kelly DeWan.
"I was like if we didn't, could things have been different but (I'm) very grateful and thankful that I was able to get this drug, and hopefully it helps and helps others too," said Mike DeWan.
For now, the drug can only be given intravenously at a hospital. It's given once a day for 10 days and has shown it can decrease recovery time. It also appears those who get the treatment are less likely to die from COVID-19.
Dr. William Short treated Mike DeWan.
"It definitely may have contributed to his getting better as we can see from the data and it is very exciting. He is one of the few people that actually got it through compassionate use," said Short.
More testing and data are still needed, but medical experts are hoping that it soon will become the norm for anyone fighting the virus.
"We are trying to get the drug approved through an emergency use authorization through the FDA and then really get it out to everyone who needs it. So, very, very exciting times in the field," said Short.
Experts stress this is not a vaccine or a cure, just a treatment. But survivors and healthcare workers say anything is better than nothing.
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Montgomery County man says remdesivir drug helped him recover from COVID-19