WUHAN, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- About 66 percent of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) patients currently in a clinical trial on Remdesivir will have a chance to take the antiviral drug, according to a respiratory and critical care specialist.
The randomized, double-blind clinical trial, which recruited a total of 761 patients, started on Feb. 6 in Wuhan, the center of the epidemic in central China's Hubei Province.
Usually, the ratio of patients taking the trial drug against those in the parallel group is 1:1. However, the ratio in the Remdesivir trial is 2:1, so that more critically ill patients may get better treatment, said Zhao Jianping from the Wuhan-based Tongji Hospital, at a press conference on NCP recently.
The rest of the patients who do not take the drug in the trial will receive other standard treatments, Zhao added.
Remdesivir is developed by Gilead Sciences, an American pharmaceutical company, and has shown good antiviral activity against SARS and MERS coronavirus in previous cell and animal experiments, according to Cao Bin, head of the drug's clinical trial program from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital.
Its clinical trials against Ebola infections have been conducted abroad. In related domestic research, it has also shown fairly good antiviral activity against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at the cellular level, Cao said.
Several official departments, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Health Commission and the National Medical Products Administration, supported the approval of the registration for clinical trials of Remdesivir.
The China-Japan Friendship Hospital and the Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) are authorized to conduct the trial in several hospitals in Wuhan, including the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital.
"Although (many) are full of expectations for the drug, researchers shall have to test its efficiency and safety with a scientific attitude," Zhao said.
The trial will adopt a strict randomized double-blind method, which means both patients and doctors do not know who has taken the trial drug. The effect of Remdesivir will only be revealed after the trial is completed.
The trial will last until the end of April.
The 2019-nCoV epidemic has claimed 908 lives and infected 40,171 people on the Chinese mainland by the end of Sunday.