In the search for answers during the COVID-19 pandemic, San Antonio’s University Hospital has become the largest study site for phase two of Remdesivir clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the antiviral drug.
Dr. Thomas Patterson is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center and is leading the Remdesivir research at University Hospital. He told the Texas Standard’s David Brown the first phase of the study determined that Remdesivir significantly reduced recovery time for patients with COVID-19.
“I saw a number of patients in follow-up from the trial who talked about how when they received Remdesivir they could basically feel almost immediately better. Their fever dropped, their myalgias –muscle pain – improved and other symptoms would pretty rapidly improve as well,” Patterson said.
Patterson said Remdesivir reduced coronavirus recovery time by 30%– from 15 days down to 11 days.
“In terms of being able to get patients out of hospitals, to really preserve our hospital capacity, that’s really a very big deal,” Patterson said. “And for patients, it’s obviously very encouraging to recover that significantly faster.”
However, there is not enough of the drug to go around. Patterson said University Hospital admitted nearly 250 new COVID-19 patients between mid-June and early July but only had about 50 courses of Remdesivir allocated from the State of Texas.
“We work to make sure the patients who need it most are more likely to get it,” Patterson said. “There’s kind of a sweet spot. Patients need to be sick enough but not too sick to benefit.”
University Hospital is in the midst of the second phase of the clinical trial which is combining Remdesivir with Baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory medication. Patterson anticipates early results from the study could be available in the next few months.