First US Covid-19 trials set to get underway in Nebraska and Washington, backed by NIH
The first US clinical trials on the novel coronavirus are scheduled to get underway next month at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where American passengers were taken after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Both trials are sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has led the US’s medical response to the outbreak.
The Nebraska trial, which appeared on clinicaltrials.gov on Friday, will test the Gilead drug remdesivir against placebo as a treatment for the disease, called Covid-19. Remdesivir, originally developed for Ebola and Marburg virus, was deployed early on in the outbreak and is now being tested in dozens of clinical trials in China.
On Tuesday morning, World Health Organization assistant director-general Bruce Aylward said the drug has shown signs it could treat symptoms of the disease, calling it the “one drug right now we think may have real efficacy.”
The University of Nebraska Medical Center declined to comment until an official announcement was made. The NIH said only NIAID director Anthony Fauci could comment, but was unavailable. Gilead did not respond to requests for comment.
The Washington trial appeared on Tuesday morning and will test the mRNA vaccine for the virus Moderna shipped to the NIH on Monday in up to 45 volunteers. The trial will begin on March 6.
The Nebraska trial is estimated to begin March 12 and eventually enroll 394 participants across up to 50 global sites. UNMC is home to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control in 2005, and a quarantine center. They treated Ebola patients during in 2014 and 2018, and have done work on SARS and monkeypox.
Last week, 13 US patients from the cruise ship arrived after weeks docked on the cost of Japan, 11 of whom tested positive for the virus.