Early results of a COVID-19 treatment study being conducted in San Antonio shows a faster recovery time and fewer deaths for patients on the new therapy.

Thomas Patterson, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, is principal investigator of the study site for patients at University Hospital.

“We’re thrilled that the drug is showing such good results so early,” said Dr. Patterson, who also is leading the COVID-19 infectious disease team at University Health System. “This important clinical trial showed improved recovery time and reduced mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection.”

The study is being conducted at dozens of study sites throughout the U.S., including Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, and in a few international locations.

The study included patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19. One group of patients received the new drug called remdesivir and the other group received a placebo. Neither doctors nor patients know which agent the patients were receiving.

Preliminary results show that patients who received the new antiviral drug had a 31% faster recovery time (11 days) than those who received the placebo (15 days). Recovery is defined as being well enough to be discharged from the hospital or returning to normal activities. The death rate for patients on remdesivir was 8% compared to 11.6% for those on placebo.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the clinical trial, the first one launched in the United States to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19.

The clinical trial included 1,063 patients and began Feb. 21 in the U.S., and on March 26 at University Hospital.

“I am so proud of our research team at UT Health San Antonio and our partners at University Hospital who helped set up this study within days of our being notified that we were going to be included in the trial,” Dr. Patterson said.

More data from the study will be available in a forthcoming report. As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as appropriate.