Researchers try combining remdesivir with a second drug to deliver a “one-two punch” to virus


Just three weeks ago, 57-year-old Bill Clark was discharged from a hospital in Atlanta after battling COVID-19.  

“I started wondering, ‘How bad is this going to be? Am I close to dying?'” Clark recalled.

Clark took part in a groundbreaking global trial with early results that showed the drug remdesivir reduced average hospitalizations from 15 to 11 days. 

Dr. Aneesh Mehta was the lead investigator of that NIH trial at Emory University. “I think remdesivir, it’s going to be one important tool, but we also need to look for other ways to help our patients,” Mehta said. 

In the next phase of the trial, Mehta and colleagues are adding even more firepower. They’re combining remdesivir, which stops the virus from multiplying, with a powerful anti-inflammatory drug that aims to prevent organ damage by calming down an inflamed immune system. 

“What the remdesivir does is stops the spark — and the immune modulator will hopefully be putting dirt on the fire to put it out,” Mehta said. 

“One-two punch,” said CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. 

“A one-two punch,” Mehta said.

Mehta’s team is looking at whether this powerful combination could make recovery even faster and possibly reduce the mortality rate in a way remdesivir alone has not yet been shown to do. 

The National Institutes of Health also said researchers are testing another potential coronavirus treatment cocktail: A mix of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine with an antibiotic used to treat infections like pink eye. 

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