What is Remdesivir and How Does It Treat COVID-19?
What is Remdesivir?
Remdesivir is the first drug to receive U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval for the treatment of COVID-19. The drug started making headlines because of its use for severely ill Covid patients.
In India, Remdesivir was in the headlines for its shortage in the month of April and May 2021.
Remdesivir is a drug developed by biotech company Gilead Sciences under the brand name Veklury in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Gilead has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
According to Gilead Sciences, as an antiviral, Veklury inhibits SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, reducing the ability of the virus to replicate in the body.
Who Can Take Remdesivir and Who Cannot?
Following is the link to Gilead’s Guideline on the use of Remdesivir, read to know in detail-
When was Remdesivir Authorized to Treat COVID-19?
Remdesivir did not have “approved” status from FDA to treat any kind of condition or illness. FDA had to issue an emergency use authorization beginning on 1st May 2020, after which doctors were able to give Remdesivir to COVID-19 patients.
“The FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization allowed for more COVID-19 patients to receive this promising drug,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., FACS, the chief research officer and president of the Northern Region for Hackensack Meridian Health.
This emergency authorization gave a chance to study its effects on the deadly coronavirus disease. In August, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization, allowing all hospitalized patients with COVID-19 to receive the drug, including people with mild and moderate disease.
And in October 2020, the FDA changed Remdesivir’s status from an emergency use authorization medication to an FDA-approved drug.
How Does Remdesivir Treat COVID-19?
In simple words, Remdesivir stops the virus from multiplying.
Remdesivir works by interrupting the production of the coronavirus, the virus has genomes made up of ribonucleic acid (RNA). Remdesivir interferes with one of the key enzymes ‘needed’ by the coronavirus to replicate RNA.
Remdesivir targets “RNA polymeras”, a special molecular machine coronavirus that needs to copy their genes when producing new virus particles.
What is RNA?
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule similar to DNA.
A graphic created by the NY times illustrates how coronavirus enters our body.
Once and after the coronavirus enters our body, it starts releasing its RNA which is different from already existing human RNA. Our ‘hijacked cells’ unknowingly serve as virus factories (meaning our cells start producing coronavirus RNA).
After RNA starts spreading in the body, the immune system begins to compromise. The virus starts making new copies of it and spreads to more parts of the body- by way of saliva, sweat, and other bodily fluids.
Remdesivir does not treat COVID-19 but it stops it from spreading in the body. It slows coronavirus spread and gives your body extra time to develop immunity.
You can read the Forbes article on Remdesivir for more information.
I am writing this blog to spread awareness about the drug, Remdesivir which is highly in demand for severely ill COVID-19 patients. I have written this blog in hurry. More informative blogs will be published.