Could Remdesivir be the cure?

Could Remdesivir be the cure for COVID-19?


If you have been reading developments on COVID, you have probably heard of the drug Remdesivir. It has helped some hospitalized patients, but does it work for all? Could Remdesivir be a cure? Unfortunately, the answers are both no. Here is a look at the current state of COVID treatments.

Until vaccine, prevent

Most infectious disease specialists believe a single medication that cures COVID is unlikely soon. A vaccine, by the most optimistic estimates, will not be released until the end of this year. Even after a vaccine is certified safe and effective, it may be a long time until you are able to receive it. Demand will far exceed supplies for many months.

Unfortunately, there is no current medication that is even close to being a cure for COVID, and vaccination will probably only come next year. That means that our best option for now is to continue efforts to avoid becoming infected. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to drastically lower your risk of becoming infected, as we have discussed here.


Most of the information about Remdesivir has come from the drug company that discovered and patented it (Gilead Sciences, Inc.). Despite calls for more transparency, the company has not released full details on the drug. An earlier study in China showed the drug was not effective, but a later US study showed Remdesivir gave people a faster recovery (11 days compared to 15 days for placebo) but it did not improve the patient’s chance for survival. 

So Remdesivir is no miracle drug. The more enthusiastic supporters say it has a “modest” effect on COVID, which is not really so great. But the good news is that Remdesivir is only a first-generation drug, and others related to it will be developed and be more effective. Similar to what happened with AIDS, the first drugs were only marginally effective, but over a short period of time, much better drugs were released.

Combinations best

What also worked best for AIDS—and for tuberculosis and chronic hepatitis—is that a combination of several drugs was needed for an effective treatment. The same will probably be true for COVID. One such combination has been used recently, and the published results looked better than the results from Remdesivir. This drug combination cut the risk of death as well as sped recovery. Why might you not of heard of this combination?

The drugs used in this treatment—Kaletra, ribavirin, and interferon beta-1b—have been used to treat AIDS, chronic hepatitis, and multiple sclerosis. But when given for this new purpose (called “re-purposed drugs”), they act in concert to be more potent than any one drug acting alone. They may not have received much attention because they are all available as generics, and do not have the same profit potential as Remdesivir, which has a public relations machine supporting it. 

65% of us infected

The US Center of Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that up to 65% of Americans will eventually become infected with the COVID virus. A similar prevalence will likely occur in other countries, such as Brazil. That means that many of us, given enough time, will be exposed sufficently and infected by this virus.

We can hope there is a good vaccine before we are exposed, and if not, then the best course is to delay exposure and infection as long as possible. With each passing week, global researchers and doctors are working frantically to come up with better treatments. If somehow you do become infected, the later that happens the better. Over time, more medications will have been tested and treatment algorithms improved. Your chance of suffering severe complications from COVID should be much less six months from now. Still, the best option is to be careful and avoid infection until we have a vaccine.

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

How to avoid COVID-19 as the world opens up 

Good sleep has never been so important 

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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This post is related to specialty Infectious Disease. Below is a list of some physicians related to this specialty.