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Fauci touts clinical trial of COVID drug as 'quite good news'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciScience seeks truth, Trump denies it Fauci says US may want to mandate masks amid COVID-19 surges Trump, Biden final arguments at opposite ends on COVID-19 MORE, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said results from a clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 treatment showed “quite good news.”

Data from an international study of remdesivir showed patients treated with the drug recovered 31 percent faster than patients given a placebo, Fauci told reporters at the White House on Wednesday, alongside President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE and Vice President Pence.

“Although a 31 percent improvement doesn’t seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept,” Fauci said. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.”

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He added the drug will be “the standard of care.”

Remdesivir patients also saw an 8 percent mortality rate, which is slightly lower, but not statistically significant, from the 11.6 percent mortality rate of placebo patients, Fauci said. The drug's impact on the COVID-19 mortality rate needs further analysis, he said. 

The clinical trial, which began in February, evaluated the safety and efficacy of remdesivir, an experimental drug developed by Gilead Sciences, in 1,063 hospitalized adults with COVID-19. The trial was the first in the U.S. to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19.

"We think it's really opening the door to the fact that we now have the capability of treating [COVID-19]," Fauci said of the results. 

He said he can "guarantee" the drug will improve as more people, companies and investigators get involved. The study has not yet been published or peer reviewed. 

Scientists have had high hopes for remdesivir as a potential COVID-19 treatment. The drug originally developed as a potential treatment for Ebola, but was found to be ineffective.

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However, the drug has shown promise against coronaviruses in experiments. 

Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner under President Trump, said on CNBC Wednesday he thinks the drug is probably not a “home run” treatment for COVID-19, but it could help people avoid worse outcomes. 

“It’s not going to be a cure, but it is going to be a drug potentially that if you use it particularly early in the course of a disease — you hang it in the emergency room when someone comes in with COVID, especially someone with risk factors that predict they’ll have a worse outcome from the disease —  it could reduce their chances of having a really bad outcome,” he said, adding that is the case with other antivirals used to treat the flu. 

Updated at 1:50 p.m.