KING COUNTY, Wash. — On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of remdesivir to be used to treat symptoms of the coronavirus.
The University of Washington conducted one of the clinical trials.
Dr. Helen Chu at the University of Washington School of Medicine identified the first case of community transmission of the coronavirus in the United States in February. The discovery was made through samples she’d collected as part of the Seattle Flu Study. She’s encouraged by the results of remdesivir.
“For us in infectious disease who see patients all the time with coronavirus, this is a game-changer, and we can actually have something that works,” said Dr. Helen Chu, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine. “It’s very hard to see the randomness of the coronavirus in the very young. We usually see this in older adults, but to see 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds intubated in the ICU and to know we have something we can treat them with, and others as well, that gives us a lot of hope.”
The CEO of Gilead reacted to the FDA approval at the White House alongside President Donald Trump.
“We feel a tremendous responsibility. We’re humbled by this being an important first step for patients, for hospitalized patients. We want to make sure nothing gets in the way of these patients, getting the medicine. So we made a decision to donate about 1.5 million vials of remdesivir. We’ll be working with the government to determine how best to distribute that within the United States,” said Daniel Day, the CEO of Gilead.
Dr. Chu’s lab at UW is eager to expand testing. Right now, they can process about 1,000 COVID-19 home test kits, but they’re only receiving about 400.
She’d like to see the volume increase. She is also interested in having children tested.
“Children don’t seem to be getting that sick with coronavirus. The big questions is if they’re not that sick, when do we re-open schools? I think getting more data on children, even if they’re not sick, are they having high viral load, are they able to potentially give it to others? Those are questions we want to answer,” said Dr. Chu.
She said what they find could influence policy decisions, such as when school could start again.
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