Remdesivir proved effective against the coronavirus in a recent study and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly plans to authorize use shortly.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
Scientists on Wednesday announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus — an experimental drug that can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients — in a major medical advance that came as the economic gloom caused by the scourge deepened in the U.S. and Europe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to authorize the drug for emergency use and an announcement could be made “as early as Wednesday,” the New York Times reported, quoting a senior Trump administration official.
“Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert. “It is a very important proof of concept because what it is proving is that a drug can block this virus.”
Fauci added, “This will be the standard of care.”
Remdesivir was developed by biotech company Gilead Sciences, which carried out a major study demonstrating that the drug shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover by four days on average, from 15 days to 11. Also, a trend toward fewer deaths was seen among those on the drug, Fauci said.
The study was run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and involved 1,063 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world.
The news came as the U.S. government reported that American output is shriveling at an alarming rate in the biggest and fastest collapse since the Depression. The virus has killed over 220,000 people worldwide since December, including about 60,000 in the U.S., and led to lockdowns and other restrictions that have closed factories and other businesses around the world.
Amid the shutdowns, the U.S. said its gross domestic product, or output of goods and services, shrank at an annual rate of 4.8% in the January-March period, the sharpest quarterly drop since the global meltdown of more than a decade ago.
And the worst is yet to come: The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the GDP of the world’s biggest economy will plunge at a 40% annual rate during the three-month period that ends in June.
The latest figures on people applying for unemployment benefits in the U.S. are set to be released Thursday, with economists estimating perhaps 1 in 6 American workers, or about 30 million people, have lost their jobs over the past six weeks.
The U.S. unemployment rate for April will come out at the end of next week, and economists have forecast that it could range as high as 20% of the workforce — a level not seen since the Depression.
Confirmed infections globally reached more than 3.2 million, including 1 million in the U.S., according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers of deaths and infections are believed to be much higher because of limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments.
An effective treatment could have a profound effect on the outbreak, since a vaccine is probably a year or more away.
Economic damage, meanwhile, is piling up elsewhere around the world.
Globally, the United Nations’ main labor body raised its prediction of full-time-equivalent job losses in the second quarter to an estimated 305 million.
It also projected that 1.6 billion workers in the “informal economy,” including those working without proper contracts or oversight by government regulation, “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.” That is nearly half the global workforce of 3.3 billion people.
“The virus has done a lot of damage to the economy, and there is just so much uncertainty now,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.