Thousands of doses of an experimental drug experts hope will help fight COVID-19 are on their way to Missouri.
Dr. Randall Williams, the state health department director, said Monday that the state would soon receive enough remdemsivir to treat 600 people sickened by the novel coronavirus.
“For patients who have severe COVID-19, they can either take it for 5 days or 10 days depending on how bad their case is,” he said, “and it's been shown to significantly reduce their morbidity.”
Williams said he would soon be talking with representatives of hospitals across the state to get the doses where they’re needed.
There were 119 hospitalized patients on ventilators in the state as of Monday, according to data gathered by the Missouri Hospital Association.
The drug from California-based Gilead Sciences has caught a lot of attention in recent months as a potential way to stop COVID-19 or at least speed recoveries.
Early trials conducted in China suggested the drug wouldn’t be helpful.
But last month, a global study run by the U.S. government offered better news: patients treated with the drug took 31 percent less time to recover from the disease than those who did not.
The patients given remdesivir also had a lower mortality rate that Williams alluded to – 8 percent of them died compared with 11.6 percent of the placebo group.
It’s not yet clear whether those results will hold up as more people are treated and researchers gather more data, though.
Williams, the state health department director, also said the state is continuing to do hundreds of tests in potential hotspots in an effort to identify outbreaks before they get out of control.
He said officials are planning to test 1,500 workers at a meat processing facility in Milan in northern Missouri and administer hundreds of other tests in St. Louis and Platte County near Kansas City.
A similar effort conducted last month at a Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph identified more than 400 workers infected with the disease.