April 26, 2020

Remdesivir Flops, But Was It Ever Designed To Succeed?

The best hope for a near term vaccine apparently showed in clinical trials that “it did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream” causing an 8+ billion dollar drop in the market cap of its maker Gilead Sciences. But was it ever designed to succeed. Remdesivir is an antiviral designed to stop the virus from replicating (see our 3D animation). But the first set of trials were all late stage trials in very severe cases. In severe cases it is the massive immune response that kills the patient not the virus itself. Therefore, reducing the viral load at that point is most likely the proverbial ‘too little too late’. Stopping the pathogenesis, or progression, of the disease with antivirals usually requires intervention in the early stages when the viral load is building. Indeed, Oseltamivir, or tamiflu, used as a prophylactic against swine flu is required to be taken within 48 hours of symptoms.

Thus by requiring that trials be conducted on severe patients first, remdesivir was potentially due to the fail from the beginning. However, the possibility that remdesivir still can be used as a prevention or early stage treatment can not be ruled out.

Source: BBC

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