CLEVELAND, Ohio — University Hospitals has begun clinical trials to test an anti-viral drug to combat COVID-19. The Hospital’s research team is among the first in the nation to test the drug. 

  • The drug, Remdesivir, will be tested in two different, but similar trials
  • One targets adults with moderate illness due to COVID-19, and one is focused on adults with severe illness due to the virus
  • UH doctor says the drug is the first antiviral that shows a lot of promise 

“It's a good thing, I think it gives our patients at UH and people from the Cleveland area a good option, very promising option to be able to get better faster from COVID-19, and notice I didn't say be cured, because you know the virus, like any other virus, at some point if it doesn't kill you, you're going to get better,” said Dr. Grace McComsey, who is the vice president of research and the associate chief scientific officer at UH.  
McComsey says the drug, Remdesivir, is the first antiviral that shows a lot of promise, specifically for COVID-19.

“Viruses work by replicating, they copy their genetic material and they use an enzyme called RNA polymerase, and that's what that drug hits, it hits the enzyme. So it's makes it difficult for the virus actually to replicate,” she said. 

Remdesivir, which is produced by the company Gilead, has two trials at UH.

“Both of them require adults, so 18 years and older, with definite pneumonia by chest X ray and tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, within four days after entry into the study,” said McComsey. 

Dr. McComsey says the hospital was not initially a site to test the drug. She had to convince the company UH would be a good fit.

“So it was, I would say, a combination of, of our past history was Gilead and, you know, our reputation. And at the same time, we promised them that we will, we're serious we can start fast and we did,” McComsey said. 

University Hospitals began administering the drug Tuesday afternoon.

“As we speak, my team is dosing the first patient,” said McComsey.