An experimental drug has proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major study, shortening the time it takes for patients to recover by four days on average, U.S. government and company officials announced Wednesday.
Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir is the first treatment to pass such a strict test against the virus, which has killed more than 218,000 people since it emerged late last year in China. Having a treatment could have a profound effect on the global pandemic, especially because health officials say any vaccine is likely a year or more away.
The study, run by the National Institutes of Health, tested remdesivir versus usual care in 1,063 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world. At the White House, NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug reduced the time it takes patients to recover by 31% — 11 days on average versus 15 days for those just given usual care.
Drop in Long Island Hospitalizations
Hospitalizations and intensive care treatment have fallen at increasing rates in Long Island’s medical centers in advance of the mid-May target for starting to ease New York’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Newsday’s monitoring of coronavirus-related hospital data shows that:
- The patient count in Nassau County hospitals fell 18% in the five days ending April 26, compared with an 11% decline during the previous five days. In contrast, near the peak of the outbreak, hospitalizations increased 61% for the five days ending April 3.
- The number of patients in Suffolk hospitals also dropped 18% for the five days ending April 26, compared with 10% in the previous five days. Near the peak, in the five days ending April 3, the number of patients doubled in five days.
- Similarly, intensive care units experienced accelerating relief, with caseloads falling 15% in Nassau, compared with 14% in the previous five days, and 17% in Suffolk, compared with 4% in the earlier period.