New study shows remedesvir only needed for 5 days to be effective for COVID-19 patients

BOSTON — Encouraging results from a new study out Wednesday on the drug remdesivir for treating COVID-19 patients.

Brigham and Women’s Dr. Francisco Marty worked on this study, and he says the results show there’s no major difference between treating a patient with remdesivir for five days versus 10 days.

“People were counting on 10 days of treatment per patient for the supply that’s available,” said Marty. “Now I think with confidence we can say, five days is enough, so now you have twice as many treatment courses.”

The benefit to these results, he says, is that now there could be more of the drug available to treat more patients if five days of the drug is enough.

Marty says what’s key is not how long you take remdesivir, but more so how early you come in for help.

“Anecdotally, people who came earlier in the course of the disease, several of them were even able to go home before the 5 days,” said Marty. “So for some patients who come earlier, a couple days, 2-3 days of treatment may be more than enough.”

This advice may go against the message we’ve all heard about staying home if you’re sick, but Marty says now that hospitals in Massachusetts are no longer at capacity, more people should come in if they’re really sick early on.

“The message should be, you’re sick, go get checked and if you’re still sick, shortness of breath, something wrong, go get checked again and get treated right away,” said Marty.

Luckily, Marty says remdesivir is now available in hospitals across Massachusetts for those patients who need it, but he says the drug shouldn’t substitute the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask to avoid getting the virus in the first place.

“It’s a tool that we have, but it cannot replace avoiding infection until we have vaccines available and other interventions that may be easier to use,” said Marty.

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