The Challenges of Treating COVID-19: Lessons from Gilead’s Remdesivir

As COVID-19 infections continue to peak, researchers around the world are working at unprecedented speeds to manufacture disease prevention and treatment options to combat the ever-growing list of COVID-19 variants. Several candidates have been identified for emergency use authorization, including monoclonal antibodies, but the current surge of infections suggests that the emerging Omicron variant is already resistant to current treatments and vaccines. The administration of these antiviral treatments, particularly to immunocompromised patients, has consequently created new drug-resistant mutations to the viral genome. Researchers in Australia, for example, found that patients treated with sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody therapy, displayed rapid changes in the viral genome and the emergence of new variants. Although current treatments against COVID-19 are unable to slow the spread of infection, several candidates have been beneficial in preventing individuals at high risk of severe disease from being hospitalized. In particular, remdesivir, brand name Velurky, gained significant coverage in the early months of the pandemic as the first and only FDA approved antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

Authorized for adults and children 12 years and older, intravenous doses of remdesivir have been shown to shorten recovery time for hospitalized patients by 5 days. Administration to children under 12 years old has not gained full approval, but the drug is authorized for emergency use for hospitalized pediatric patients.

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.