US clinical trial: Initial results in 2 to 3 weeks

A US university conducting a clinical trial of a possible treatment for the new coronavirus says the initial results could be available in two to three weeks.

Dr. Andre Kalil is an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His team is testing the experimental Ebola drug remdesivir, as part of a program led by the National Institutes of Health.

Kalil says so far 80 patients are taking part in the trial, with half of them given the drug and the other half a placebo. He said his team should be able to examine the results of the first 100 patients in the next two to three weeks.

However, Kalil warned that the experimental drug has unwanted side effects. He said giving any medication that is not tested and approved to know if it is safe would create "more risk than benefit" for patients with mild symptom. He said the drug should only be used for patients with a high risk of death.

Kalil said 20 to 30 percent of his hospital patients required one or two weeks of treatment in intensive care units. He said if the medical system gets overwhelmed, patients in need will have difficulty finding a bed in the ICU.

Kalil highlighted the need to prevent a surge in the number of coronavirus patients. He said, "This can really become a disaster in any place on the planet."