UNC researcher feels vindicated after FDA allows emergency use of drug to treat COVID-19

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A UNC-Chapel Hill researcher says he feels vindicated after the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval for remdesivir to treat COVID-19.

Researchers at the Gillings School of Public Health have been studying the drug initially developed to treat ebola since 2014.

Dr. Timothy Sheahan told CBS 17 he always believed in the science behind remdesivir, but that’s not what excites him most about the drug’s FDA approval.

“The most exciting thing to me is the fact it’s a real game changer. We’ve been sailing by for months with blunt intervention strategies,” Sheahan said. This says we at least have one weapon in our arsenal to use against COVID-19.”

Sheahan says studies have shown the IV administered drug can speed up patient recovery times.

He believes the drugmaker Gilead could produce as many as 1 million doses of the drug by the end of the year.

The FDA acted after preliminary results from a government-sponsored study showed that Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir shortened the time to recovery by 31%, or about four days on average, for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The study of 1,063 patients is the largest and most strict test of the drug and included a comparison group that received just usual care so remdesivir’s effects could be rigorously evaluated.

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