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Joining the race to discover an effective COVID-19 treatment, researchers are now looking towards investigating remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication.
In particular, a cohort of scientists tested remdesivir in a rhesus macaque (primate) model to determine whether remdesivir exhibits sufficient enough in vivo efficacy. They found that the animals did not show signs of respiratory disease and also had lower levels of pulmonary infiltrates, a dense substance resting within the lungs that is associated with pneumonia— a serious complication of COVID-19. However, viral shedding—the release of virus progeny—from the upper respiratory tract was not reduced by remdesivir treatment. Nevertheless, upon conducting autopsies, the lungs of treated animals displayed lower viral loads and had reduced damage.
While the rhesus macaque model is not entirely representative of severely-affected COVID-19 patients, initiating remdesivir treatment early in other COVID-19 patients may prevent the worsening progression of conditions to pneumonia.