Hopes rise in virus battle as US scientists hail drug trial

WASHINGTON, United States, April 30 ------ US scientists on Wednesday hailed a potential breakthrough in the coronavirus fight as a trial showed patients responding to an antiviral drug, fueling global hopes for a return to normal. The medical news was enough to propel a rebound on Wall Street even after data showed the pandemic had plunged the United States into its worst economic slump in a decade and Germany predicted its biggest recession since the aftermath of World War II. In the first proof of successful treatment against the illness that has claimed more than 226,000 lives, a clinical trial of the drug remdesivir showed that patients recovered over 30 percent more quickly than those on a placebo. Anthony Fauci, who oversaw the study, told reporters at the White House: "The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery." Fauci, the veteran top US scientist in the fight against infectious diseases, likened the finding to the first retrovirals that worked, albeit with modest success, against HIV in the 1980s. The trial, which involved 1,063 people across 68 locations in the US, Europe and Asia, showed that "a drug can block this virus," Fauci said. Remdesivir failed in trials against the Ebola virus and a smaller study, released last week by the World Health Organization, found limited effects among patients in Wuhan, China, where the illness was first detected last year. Senior WHO official Michael Ryan declined to weigh in on the latest findings Wednesday, saying he had not reviewed the complete study. "I think a lot more data will come out," he told reporters. "We are all hoping — fervently hoping — that one or more of the treatments currently under observation and under trial will result in altering clinical outcomes" and reducing deaths, he said. The UN body said its emergency committee will meet Thursday for the first time since it declared coronavirus an international emergency three months ago. US President Donald Trump has assailed the WHO as not responding quickly or aggressively enough, although critics say he is trying to deflect from his own response. US deaths from the virus this week topped the country's 58,220 fatalities in the Vietnam War -- standing at 60,475 as of 2200 GMT Wednesday. The United States has suffered the most deaths, with Britain's toll on Wednesday becoming the world's third worst at 26,097. More than 27,000 people have died in Italy. Source: philstar.com