AU gets new COVID-19 drug, but will it work? Experts say it's promising

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- We've learned Augusta University Health is getting a supply of remdesivir, a COVID-19 treatment showing positive results. But since the supply sent is very limited, could this make any real impact here?​

AU says they've been calling the state for a couple weeks asking for the drug. It's on short supply, but on Saturday night a state trooper brought it to the center straight from the capitol.

It's already being used on patients. AU only got 150 doses of Remdesivir, but two patients needed it badly.

"We thought they were the perfect patients, Dr. Jose Vazquez, AU's chief of infectious diseases, said. "Newly diagnosed and immediately went on a respirator."

And Vazquez says one of those patients is already improving. They get one dose a day, for seven to 10 days. That means they have enough to treat 15 patients.

"There's no way we're not going to use it in patients even though we may run out. If they need it, they are going to be getting the drug," Vazquez said.

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug originally made to fight Ebola. The FDA recently gave it an emergency-use authorization, so doctors can use it with informed consent. Only a set amount of doses were sent worldwide.

"Recognizing that only eight hospitals in Georgia got it. So, we are actually one of the luckier ones. Lucky, because we have a significant number of patients," Vazquez said.

Vazquez hopes an oral dose will be available soon. But for now, IV treatment is likely to lower hospital stays.

"If we can catch them early and get them out of the hospital, then it will be much more beneficially obviously for everybody involved," Vazquez said.

AU says they are starting four of five more treatment studies soon and will likely get more doses of the drug by the end of the week.

According to AU, remdesivir is one of the only drugs to be shown through studies to treat COVID-19. But it can't just go to any patient, it depends on your condition.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.