Minnesota will soon receive a limited shipment of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which has been shown to assist with the recovery in patients with severe cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says that the state is putting together a plan for how to distribute the drug, which is developed by Gilead Sciences and is being sent out by the federal government, to maximize lifesaving efforts in the state's hospitals.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institute of Health, said that the largest initial studies into the drug's effectiveness in treating coronavirus have found that patients who respond to the drug are discharged 30 percent sooner than those who received a placebo in clinical trials.
The average recovery time was for 11 days compared to 15 days for those on the placebo.
Fauci said that the mortality "trended" towards being better – 8 percent mortality compared to 11.6 percent for placebo patients in clinical trials – though he cautioned that it has "not yet reached statistical significance.”
While no details as to how much of the drug Minnesota is getting nor how it will be distributed, Malcolm says that it could prove an important tool in the state's healthcare system's efforts to limit the spread and keep up its available capacity.
She said the drug would also be distributed equitably, fairly, and with transparency.
"With the processes we have in place, we are developing criteria for how we will distribute it around healthcare systems with an eye to maximizing the lives we can impact, and also with equity and fairness," Malcolm said.
Minnesota currently has 473 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, with 198 of those in the ICU.