Is Remdesivir a cure for COVID-19?

With COVID-19 becoming a world-wide pandemic and causing many people to fall ill, scientists and researchers began looking for a possible cure or treatment for COVID.

COVID-19 is caused by a virus; SARS-CoV2, which is a virus similar to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Antivirals, such as Remdesivir, have been developed for MERS over a decade ago. Even during the Ebola virus epidemic, remdesivir was tested and regarded as a safe medication but was overshadowed by other medications that displayed more promising results.

The SARS-CoV2 genetic information is in the form of a single-stranded RNA. In order for a virus to spread, it needs to replicate its genome. An enzyme by the name of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase plays a vital role in the replication process for coronaviruses by adding RNA units to replicate the RNA strands.

Remdesivir has a similar shape to the RNA building unit and this causes the enzyme to add the remdesivir to the growing RNA strand. Due to this, the enzyme is unable to continue the RNA strand. This prevention of completing the RNA strand, which is a necessity for the virus replication, stops the virus from multiplying.

Studies have taken place to see whether Remdesivir can be used as a treatment for COVID-19. A particular study has shown that remdesivir has the potential of being an effective treatment for SARS-CoV2.

A similar study took place in China. Where one group of patients were given the drug Remdesivir and the other group was given a placebo. The study showed that those given Remdesivir had a faster recovery time by 2 days, however it is not clear whether or not this was statistically significant.

Remdesivir was the first drug that was approved by the FDA for treating COVID19. It is not a clear cure, but it shows encouraging signs of being and effective treatment.

-By: Nimla Asgher -Intern at Science WeeklyFix

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