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

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWhite House admits July 4 vaccine marker will be missed Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices Poll: 58 percent say Fauci should not resign 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 TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster 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.