Scientists announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus

Scientists in the US have announced the first effective treatment against coronavirus with an experimental drug able to “block” COVID-19.

The drug Remdesivir.
The drug Remdesivir.Source:AFP
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 US and Europe.

The US government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible.

What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus, said Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert. This will be the standard of care.

The news came as the US government reported that American output is shrivelling 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 US, and led to lockdowns and other restrictions that have closed factories and other businesses around the world.

Amid the shutdowns, the US said its gross domestic product, or output of goods and services, shrank at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent 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 per cent annual rate during the three-month period that ends in June.

Confirmed infections globally reached more than 3.2 million, including 1 million in the US, 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. 

Biotech company Gilead Sciences and the US government reported that in a major study, remdesivir 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 US National Institutes of Health and involved 1,063 hospitalised coronavirus patients around the world.

An effective treatment could have a profound effect on the outbreak, since a vaccine is probably a year or more away.

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