A research group led by the US National Institute of Heath has concluded the drug remdesivir helps shorten recovery time for COVID-19 patients.
The researchers on Friday published preliminary results of a clinical study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Studies of remdesivir began after some tests indicated it helps prevent the virus from replicating.
The latest US study comprised two groups totaling about 1,000 patients, most with serious symptoms. One group took remdesivir and the other a placebo. Researchers monitored their conditions for about four weeks after administering the drug for 10 consecutive days.
The remdesivir group had a median recovery time of 11 days while that of the non-remdesivir group was 15 days. Recovery was defined as sufficient improvement to warrant discharge from hospital.
The patients on remdesivir showed a lower rate of mortality 14 days after the start of the trial than those on the placebo. But the researchers determined the difference was not significant.
The team concluded remdesivir was effective in shortening the time to recovery. It recommends administration of the drug before the patient needs a respirator. It also says in order to lower mortality, remdesivir should be combined with other therapeutic approaches or different anti-viral agents.
The US government has already approved remdesivir for COVID-19 in emergencies. Japan has followed suit and fast-tracked its approval.