Remdesivir, the same antiviral drug aiding the President in his battle against COVID-19, has roots here in the Triangle

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that was developed right here in Triangle, is playing a key role in President Trump's path to recovery from COVID-19.

Right now, doctors at UNC and Duke Hospitals are also using the drug to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 among patients.

The anti-viral medication was developed about 6 years ago by UNC researchers and Gilead Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company. The drug, which was approved by the FDA for emergency use over the spring, is usually given to patients who are on oxygen.

"In general it's been well-tolerated," said Dr. Thomas Holland, associate professor of infectious diseases at Duke University. "We are cautious with that medication with patients who have underlying kidney disease that's severe. And then we monitor the potential effects on the liver."

Dr. David Wohl, a UNC professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases, seconded Holland's comment saying, "It showed that it could reduce the amount of time people were in the hospital from 15 days, than the people who got placebo, to 11 days. So that's pretty good."

Wohl also said the mortality rate was also reduced from 12% to about 7%.

Dr. Wohl says the steroid Dexamethasone, which is another drug the president is taking, helps reduce the immune systems potential bad effects on the body.

On Friday, the White House said Trump was also being injected with an experimental antibody cocktail still in clinical trial.

Right now, Duke University says it's studying a similar product in research trials.
Because so many were sickened with COVID-19 before or after last Saturday's Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Nominee Amy Coney Barrett, including state Senator Thom Tillis, both experts are doubling down on this message: wash your hands, social distance and wear a mask.

"This is just a shame," said Dr. Wohl. "Unfortunately, some in this administration have mocked, but really do play a role. If all those protections were in place I don't think we'd be talking about this right now."

Another big event is happening this week. The Vice Presidential debate is still scheduled for Wednesday but Dr. Holland cautions the risk of the debate being a super spreader event.

"Vice President Pence if he was exposed or in close contact from anyone at the Rose Garden Ceremony then he would need to quarantine in my opinion at least a week."
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