China has begun clinical trials on an antiviral drug to determine if it could treat the coronavirus that’s infected over 28,000 people in the country, and for which there is no currently approved treatment, The New York Times reports.
The patients will receive remdesivir, a medication from the American pharmaceutical company Gilead that is currently experimental and has not been approved for use. There have been no studies yet about its effects on humans with the coronavirus, but studies performed with mice and monkeys showed signs that the drug could fight the virus. Remdesivir has been tested on human patients with Ebola, and although it was not effective at fighting that virus, it did not have any negative effects on the patients.
A patient with coronavirus in the United States was given remdesivir last week in response to his worsening condition and his coming down with pneumonia after being in the hospital, and his symptoms were improved the following day.
“It is important to keep in mind that this is an experimental medicine that has only been used in a small number of patients with 2019-nCoV [the official name for the coronavirus] to date, so we do not have an appropriately robust understanding of the effect of this drug to warrant broad use at this time,” Gilead spokesman Ryan McKeel told the Times in an email.
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