Shares of Gilead Sciences were up by more than 16 percent after-hours on Thursday once news of a promising drug trial broke. The drug, Remdesivir, is showing positive results in treating the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
The drug trial is in phase 3 at the University of Chicago and so far, is showing that patients recovered quickly from the coronavirus’s resulting respiratory symptoms and fever. Most patients who were given the drug recover in under a week, according to STAT, a health care publication.
Kathleen Mullane, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Chicago, said: “The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish.”
For the clinical trials, the university enrolled 125 coronavirus patients into two late-stage Gilead trials. The majority of them, 113, were seriously ill. Gilead plans to recruit 4,000 people in all to enroll in the trials.
Currently, no single therapy as proven to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins, the virus has infected nearly 2.2 million people worldwide and has caused at least 147,337 deaths as of Friday morning. The U.S. has 671,425 confirmed cases with 28,998 deaths and counting.
U.S. officials have repeatedly said that it would take a year to 18 months to produce a reliable vaccine for the virus. Health experts have said that an effective treatment in the interim is crucial to minimizing the death toll from the virus.
Previously, Remdesivir showed promising results in treating MERS and SARS, both diseases with coronavirus origins. Some doctors in the U.S. and China have been trialing Remdesivir in hopes of reducing the severity of COVID-19 in their patients.
Gilead expects that results of its clinical trials utilizing Remdesivir in patients who are severely infected with the coronavirus will become available this month. Another trial, which tests patients who are only showing moderate symptoms, is due in May.