CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan starts clinical trials of remdesivir on COVID-19 patients

03/19/2020 06:26 PM
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Image taken from Pixabay for illustrative purposes only
Image taken from Pixabay for illustrative purposes only

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Clinical trials of the antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 have already started in Taiwan, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expert Chang Shang-chun (張上淳) said Thursday.

Speaking at a daily CECC briefing in Taipei, Chang said remdesivir is a highly anticipated drug that many believe could be a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Originally developed by the American drugmaker Gilead Sciences for use against the Ebola virus, remdesivir has been widely discussed as a possible coronavirus treatment, following positive results from Chinese and American doctors who have administered the drug experimentally.

On Jan. 31, Gilead said in a statement that it was working with the Chinese authorities to conduct a clinical trial involving the use of remdesivir on coronavirus patients.

In late February, the CECC announced Taiwanese research teams had successfully synthesized the investigational antiviral drug, and were preparing to carrying out clinical trials on COVID-19 patients in Taiwan.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who also heads the CECC, said at the time that Taiwan will set up strict standards for the selection of potential participants in the trials, however the details were not disclosed.

On Thursday, Chang again did not elaborate on which COVID-19 patients would be included in the trials, except to say that they have already begun in Taiwan.

In addition to remdesivir, he revealed that anti-HIV drugs combined with interferons are among the drugs that are been tested on coronavirus patients in the country, noting that local medical experts are also continuing to assess other options for the treatment of COVID-19.

(By Chang Min-hsuan, Chen Yi-hsuan and Ko Lin)

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