What Is Remdesivir? Boston Researchers Explain the COVID Drug Trump Is Taking

Doctors say the drug has been proven to be effective in patients with more serious cases of COVID-19

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President Donald Trump’s doctors have said that he is now on a five-day course of remdesivir to treat his COVID-19.

The anti-viral drug made by Gilead Sciences has been the subject of several clinical trials in Boston.

“A number of trials have been completed with remdesivir and what we know is patients who get treated with remdesivir get better faster,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, chief of the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center.

Results from a phase three trial show that Remdesivir helps recovery in moderately-ill coronavirus patients.

Tufts began conducting research on the drug in the spring.

“I’m not the president’s physician so I don’t know the details of his case, but in general, remdesivir is recommended when patients have moderate to severe COVID, so when they need oxygen supplementation or their oxygen saturation is below 94%,” Boucher said.

Doctors say the drug has been proven to be effective in patients with more serious cases of COVID-19.

“It’s a drug that interferes with the life cycle of a virus,” said Dr. Richard Ellison, an infectious disease specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Ellison says that remdesivir needs to be given in a hospital -- and Trump was given the drug after he was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center.

“Being in a hospital setting as opposed to being at the White House, if something were to change suddenly, it’s very much easier to take care of him at Walter Reed,” Ellison said.

Boucher said that full studies on this drug are expected to be finished in a few months.

Doctors treating President Donald Trump for the coronavirus at Walter Reed Medical Center gave updates on the president’s treatment on Saturday morning. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” said the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley.
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