Remdesivir is an antiviral drug or medicine. It has been developed by the American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. It is a nucleotide analog prodrug that inhibits viral RNA polymerases. The drug has shown in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2. It speeds recovery from COVID-19 disease.


What is Remdesivir?

Remdesivir is a medicine that was originally developed to treat the Ebola virus disease. Now, it is being studied as a possible treatment for Coronavirus. The preliminary results of the research showed that Remdesivir may reduce the time to recovery for people with advanced COVID‑19.

The medicine was created and developed by Gilead Sciences, under the direction of scientist Tomáš Cihlář who is a Biochemist. It was developed for the treatment of Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus infections. Gilead Sciences later discovered that Remdesivir had antiviral activity in vitro against multiple filoviruses, and coronaviruses.

The drug was viewed as the most likely promising treatment for COVID-19 by Johns Hopkins University in April,2020. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) stated that Remdesivir was better than a placebo in reducing time to recovery for people hospitalized with advanced COVID‑19 and lung involvement. The drug can stop or slow viral replication but doesn’t block the body’s immune system responses which can cause additional damage for many severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Side effects of Remdesivir

The drug may damage the liver and can cause other short-term side effects such as nausea and vomiting. These side effects should be considered before treating COVID-19 patients who have other underlying conditions. Some other side effects of the drug include low albumin, low potassium, low count of red blood cells, low count of platelets that help with clotting, and yellow discoloration of the skin. Chinese study indicates that the drug was not effective in reducing the time for improvement from COVID-19 infections or deaths and caused various adverse effects, requiring the investigators to terminate the trial.

Is Remdesivir effective for COVID-19 treatment?

Scientists have discovered that the drug is highly effective in stopping the replication mechanism of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It copies a natural ingredient called adenosine of DNA and RNA. The drug blocks a type of enzyme called a polymerase, which is needed to make DNA and RNA.

When the enzyme is blocked, the virus can’t make copies of itself which limits the development of symptoms and spread of the disease. In January 2020, Gilead began laboratory testing of Remdesivir against SARS-CoV-2, stating that the drug was active against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in animal models.

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