KC doctors cautiously optimistic about possible COVID-19 drug treatment

Clinical trials offer encouraging results
Virus Outbreak Treatment
Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 21:01:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday that a new drug showing promise in clinical trials could be a first step toward a potential COVID-19 treatment.

That drug, described on the TODAY Show, is remdesivir, which Fauci called "not the total answer" but "a very important first step."

Doctors in the Kansas City area are watching the drug closely.

"What remdesivir does is it basically halts the replication of that RNA synthesis and therefore it halts the virus from replicating further in the body," said Dr. Sayo Weihs, Truman Medical Centers' clinical lead pharmacist for infectious disease.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System, said the drug could be "favorable" for improving recovery time, from a possible 15 days to 11 days.

Clinical trials continue to move forward for remdesivir and other drug treatments for the novel coronavirus, but doctors say there are drawbacks to moving quickly.

"There's always that balance of pushing ahead to find something to help people who are ill now, with the waiting for the usual science and outcomes we have in place as safety mechanisms for when new medications come to the market," said Dr. Sarah Boyd, an infectious disease physician with Saint Luke's Health System.

While doctors welcome the good news about remdesivir, they say it is not the final headline.

"It's not a silver bullet, it's not something that clears the virus from the body," Weihs said.

Remdesivir trials are not currently taking place in the Kansas City metro, but local experts are paying attention.

"It's really based on your site and the disease incidence at your location for allocation of that medication. From our standpoint, we would continue to see what happens with further use," Boyd said.

Doctors are preaching patience as they urgently search for solutions.