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UVA Health joins clinical trial to test potential COVID-19 medication

(FILE) (Source: WVIR)
(FILE) (Source: WVIR)(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 11:02 AM EDT
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UVA Health has joined a national clinical trial that allows COVID-19 patients to choose to receive a medication being evaluated as a possible treatment.

According to a statement released by the hospital on Thursday, the trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of remdesivir, an antiviral drug that has previously been tested in humans with Ebola virus.

They say it's shown promise, in animal studies, against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which are each diseases caused by different types of coronavirus.

“Finding an effective treatment will be incredibly important in our battle against COVID-19,” said K. Craig Kent, MD, UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs. “I am pleased that UVA is a part of this valuable study.”

Patients who are hospitalized in the UVA Health system with COVID-19 and significant symptoms — including difficulty breathing, using supplemental oxygen or needing a ventilator — can now sign up for the trial.

Participants are randomly assigned either remdesivir or a placebo drug. The drug will be administered via IV for as long as 10 days.

Per standard procedure for medical trials like this, neither the participant nor their doctor will know if they are receiving the medication or a placebo.

The patient will otherwise receive the current standard of care for COVID-19 patients, based on their symptoms. Each day, UVA doctors will assess any changes in their condition.

The trial involves a number of hospitals an an estimated 440 participants around the world. Data from all patients involved will be combined and analyzed about halfway through the trial's enrollment period to determine if any changes need to be made.

Depending on the status of the trial at that point, it could be stopped if no benefits are seen, or it could be changed to add another medication or therapy that could improve participants’ response.

“Having scientifically sound information about the effectiveness of remdesivir will be helpful as we seek to provide the best care for patients,” said Patrick Jackson, MD, the principal investigator for the trial at UVA.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding the study. Gilead Sciences Inc., which developed remdesivir, is supplying it for the study.

"Bringing the Remdesivir trial to UVA is a true testament to our collaborative spirit,” said Taison Bell, MD, a UVA critical care and infectious disease specialist. "Before I spoke to Dr. John Beigel [the principal investigator for the entire trial], we had already lined up the research staff and infrastructure to hit the ground running. He was impressed with our organization, and we were able to start moving immediately.”