Duke University Hospital launches study to treat Coronavirus symptoms

Duke University Hospital announced it joined the first national study to test a treatment for COVID-19. Duke University Hospital patients with significant symptoms of coronavirus can participate in the study immediately.

“It's not a drug that's available at this stage for outpatients. It's really for people who are on the sicker end of the spectrum,” said Doctor Cameron Wolfe, the study’s principal investigator.

Wolfe is hoping the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, will help ease symptoms for patients already in the hospital with COVID-19. “It's not all the way through its testing, but we think it's getting close,” he said.

Wolfe says the study was fast-tracked to test the therapy on hospitalized patients with coronavirus.

“Six to eight days for us to get contracting, budgets, staff in place, pharmacy online, ethics board approval -- multiple levels,” he continued, “That would, typically for a large study, six to eight days might be six to eight weeks if we're going well.”

What makes this therapy different? Wolfe says it’s designed to target COVID-19 whereas other drugs are not.

“There may be other drugs that're available and well-studied for other things, but this is a drug that's more targeted, really, at severe viral infections,” Wolfe said.

Remdesivir, which was designed by biotech company, Gilead, has been repurposed; doctors originally tested the treatment in humans with Ebola.

“It works great at the bench in the lab, it works safe from what we can tell in healthy humans,” Wolfe said. “We're really now moving it into the trial phase. I'm hopeful.”

The latest numbers from the Emerson College-Nexstar national poll found 66 percent of Americans would take a Coronavirus vaccine if doctors offered it to them. FOX 46 asked who would take a treatment aimed to reduce symptoms.

One person said, “I probably still wouldn’t take it because if I have symptoms or something I normally don’t take stuff for it anyway.”

Another said, “I would want to try something if I could; if there’s a possibility of it helping.”

One man said he would too, “I guess if I was really suffering. I would want to wait and see how I was affected by the actual virus first.”