Researchers are making strides in the race to find treatments for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). A new experimental drug called remdesivir has been found to improve the recovery time for those infected with the virus and may soon be be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, per reports.

The drug, which is made by Gilead Sciences, was tested in a government-funded study involving coronavirus patients. Those who received remdesivir via intravenous recovered about 30 percent faster than those who did not, cutting the total recovery time from about 15 days to 11 days. The findings are now leading experts to push for an emergency authorization from the FDA to roll out the treatment.

“As part of the FDA’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in … discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum revealed to CNN.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s top doctors and director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, shared his optimism over the remdesivir findings.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said Wednesday. “Although a 31 percent improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is very important proof of concept. What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

The treatment was studied in a 1,090-patient trial and also pointed towards a decreased mortality rate for infected patients. The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases revealed findings of an 8 percent mortality for patients receiving remdesivir versus an 11.6 percent rate for placebo patients. Such promising measures during a heightened pandemic caused the preliminary trial results to be disclosed earlier than usual, with Fauci calling it an “ethical obligation” to inform placebo patients of an effective treatment.

Remdesivir is one of many drugs being tested for the treatment of COVID-19 as researchers worldwide rush to find relief for the virus. Pending FDA authorization, it would be administered to hospitalized patients. Vaccine research is also ongoing as experts advise that an approved vaccine may not be rolled out until next year at the earliest.

Headline image via Wikimedia Commons user Aspargos

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