(CNSNews.com) - NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Senate Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Tuesday that 80 percent of the 90,000 people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19, “spontaneously recover,” meaning they get better without any specific intervention.
“If you look at the now 90,000 people who’ve been infected and the number of deaths that have occurred, about 80 percent of individuals who get infected do really quite well without any specific intervention. Namely, they spontaneously recover,” Fauci said in his opening statement.
“However, about 15 to up to 20 percent of individuals – usually those who are elderly and in risk groups wind up getting serious disease requiring supportive care. That could be oxygen. That could be intensive care. That could be intubation or even more dramatic interventions,” he said.
“So we want desperately to have a therapy for these individuals. There are a number of candidate therapies that literally as I speak to you today are being tested in randomized control trials. One of these is called Remdesivir, which was developed by the Gilead company. It is being tested in a large trial in China, and it is also being tested here in the United States in an NIH-sponsored trial in collaboration with Gilead,” he said.
Fauci predicted that we’ll see within several months whether Remdesivir works, but the drug won’t be available to the public until it goes through clinical trials to ensure it’s safe. The technology that is currently available has reduced the time it takes to go from developing the treatment to actually trying it on someone to “the fastest that we’ve ever done,” he said.
“We should know within a period of a few months, several months whether or not this particular drug works. If it does, the implementation of that will be almost immediate. Now I can’t guarantee that it’ll work or other drugs which are in the pipeline a little bit behind them, but the timetable for treatment is different than the timetable for a vaccine, and that’s why I want to see if we can clear up any misunderstandings that are sometimes out there,” Fauci said.
“Right now, the technology that we have has all us to go from the time the sequence of the virus was put in the public database to the time we actually stick a candidate into the arm of someone has gone down to literally be the fastest that we’ve ever done. I expect that at least one of those candidates – and it’s not the only one – will likely go into clinical trials in a Phase 1 study within about 2 months or maybe even six weeks,” he said.
“That would be a record. However, that is not a vaccine, because it will take about three months or more to show that it is safe, and then if you show that it’s safe, you’ve got to put it into what’s called a phase 2 trial to show that it works, and the reason is there’s a medical, ethical, and other considerations is that we’d be giving this to normal people to prevent infection, so you must be sure the edict of medicine – first do no harm. So we need to make sure it’s safe, and we need to make sure it works,” Fauci said.
“That entire process will take at least a year and a year and a half, so when we hear talk about a vaccine’s going to be ready in a couple of months, it won’t be ready for being deployed,” Fauci added.