Five Australian hospitals are set to receive the experimental coronavirus drug, remdesivir. Sydney’s St Vincent hospital has been confirmed as one location, according to a report from The Guardian.
The drug, developed by U.S. pharmaceutical company, Gilead, will be trialled in five hospitals across Australia just as Dr Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s authority on coronavirus, lauded the preliminary results of a trial indicating remdesivir had shortened the recovery time of patients.
According to The Guardian, Sydney's St Vincent hospital is the only confirmed location so far with the remaining four still being finalised.
The U.S. trial Dr Fauci referenced was conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which has yet to be published or peer-reviewed. Preliminary results have found that patients who used the drug recovered four days faster compared with patients who used a placebo " an improvement of 31 per cent. There was also a slight decrease in the death rate from 11.6 per cent to eight per cent.
The drug was originally designed to help fight Ebola but has since been refocused to treat coronavirus. It works by blocking an enzyme called a polymerase, which effectively stops the virus from multiplying, limiting the development of symptoms and halting further spread.
The race is on to find a drug that is both effective and safe for treating COVID-19, which has spread to 3.1 million infections and caused 220,000 deaths worldwide.Read more
While the NIAID trial's preliminary results have sparked hope across the globe, the results of others using the drug have not been as positive.
A Chinese study published in the Lancet could not find any benefits for the drug, though it admitted it had not reached the expected amount of participants as cases fell considerably in Wuhan by mid-March.
The remdesivir trials will join a number of other vaccine and treatment candidates ongoing around the country.
The CSIRO is testing out two vaccine candidates " one from the University of Oxford, the other from U.S. pharmaceutical company Inovio " while 4,000 healthcare workers around Australia are undertaking trials using the Bacillus Calmette"Guérin (BCG) vaccine usually used for tuberculosis.
The University of Queensland has also been trialling a vaccine, developed by Dutch company Viroclinics Xplore, and has said the results so far have been promising.
The hope is that one of these will prove effective in the coming months.
The race is on to develop a vaccine to fight against the spread of coronavirus and one candidate in Queensland is looking decent so far.Read more