CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC UPDATE: UPLIFTING NEWS FROM SOME OF OUR WORK HERE AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH)
Here at the National Institutes of Health, we continue to play a critical role in the US effort to address the challenge of COVID-19, as we've done in past infectious diseases outbreaks.
Yesterday, the NIH Clinical Center enrolled its first two research participants with COVID-19 as part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) randomized, controlled clinical trial of the antiviral Remdesivir. The patients were transported from Suburban Hospital, (a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine located in Bethesda, Maryland), and placed in the Special Clinical Studies Unit (SCSU), a highly specialized infectious disease containment and treatment facility within the NIH Clinical Center. This facility was successfully used from 2014 to 2016 to care for patients with Ebola Virus Disease and is used for many other infectious disease trials.
The NIH Clinical Center is specially equipped to handle patients with highly infectious diseases, including high-level respiratory isolation capabilities and highly trained infectious diseases and critical care specialists. These staff have been prepared to receive research participants and have implemented strict infection control practices optimized to prevent spread of potentially transmissible agents such as the novel coronavirus from an infected patient either to health care personnel or to the surrounding hospital environment.
NIAID announced the launch of the COVID-19 trial on February 21, 2020, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Since then more than 37 study locations have been added, including the NIH Clinical Center. The trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of Remdesivir in hospitalized adults with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and evidence of lung involvement, including abnormal sounds heard through the stethoscope when breathing (rales) with a need for supplemental oxygen, abnormal chest X-rays, or inadequate oxygenation requiring mechanical ventilation. Individuals with confirmed infection who have mild, cold-like symptoms or no apparent symptoms will not be included in the study. The trial sites are enrolling participants quickly and we are hopeful that an answer on safety and effectiveness will be reached this spring.
The COVID-19 Remdesivir trial is one of several clinical trials the NIH is conducting and/or funding, in an expedited fashion, in the effort to identify effective vaccines and drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.
Furthermore, it is with earnest expectation that we await the development of safe and effective vaccines and treatments for this highly infectious strain of coronavirus. Currently, however, mitigation and containment remain our best options for reducing community spread of the infection. Please continue to follow the physical distancing measures that have been put in place at your locality. It is certainly not easy, but we will get through this together.
Remember be calm, be informed, be vigilant, be prepared, be safe.