Quick OK likely for COVID-19 treatment using drug with UNC roots

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The nation’s top infectious diseases expert says he expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve a new experimental drug with UNC-Chapel Hill that showed promising signs in treating patients with COVID-19.

Anthony Fauci tells NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that he anticipates the go-ahead for the emergency use of Remdesivir to happen “really quickly.”

He says he spoke with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on Wednesday, and while Hahn had yet to make a final decision, “I would project that we’re going to be seeing that reasonably soon.” The drug was shown in a major study to shorten recovery time of hospitalized patients.

Fauci said the drug’s manufacturer has committed to scaling production of the drug as quickly as possible as the world hunts for an effective treatment and ultimately a vaccine.

Fauci has been working on a project to fast track the development of a vaccine by mass producing formulas that appear safe and effective before they’re fully vetted. The goal is to get hundreds of millions of doses to the public by January.

Animal testing at UNC Gillings School of  Global Public Health set the stage for clinical trials to begin this spring as the virus spread across the globe.

“This is a game changer for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 and provides hope to many infected,” says Ralph Baric, an epidemiologist in the UNC Gillings School of Public Health that led lab testing of the broad-spectrum antiviral drug.

Six years ago, the UNC-Chapel Hill lab partnered with the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. Their goal was testing the company’s antiviral drugs to curb emerging viral diseases, according to Tim Sheahan, a virologist in Baric’s lab.

Fast forward to today and the intravenous drug remdesivir could provide relief during a global pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 60,000 Americans and sickened more than 1 million in the United States.

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire