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Dr. Fauci expresses optimism for treating COVID-19 with antiviral drug remdesivir

Data indicates the drug helps diminish time to recovery

DETROIT – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed optimism Wednesday about finding a possible treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Currently there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments for coronavirus. The antiviral drug, remdesivir, is just one of many antiviral drugs being looked at to treat coronavirus.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. This is really quite important,” Fauci said.

The drug is given through an IV and is designed to interfere with the virus’ ability to copy its genetic material. In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough int the course of illness.

There was a less encouraging study testing remdesivir in severely ill patients in China. It was published Wednesday in Lancet, a British medical journal.

In that study, the drug did not speed recovery. The trial was stopped early after enrolling just 237 patients -- after cases of COVID-19 dropped off dramatically in China.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.


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