CHICAGO – Cook County Health is conducting some of the first clinical trials for a possible treatment for COVID-19.   

Cook County Health is one of only three medical centers in Chicago and one of 50 major medical centers worldwide leading two different studies. Both are phase III, randomized trials looking at the safety and efficacy of a potential drug treatment for patients diagnosed with either moderate or severe COVID-19.   

The antiviral drug known as remdesivir has been used to treat patients diagnosed with Ebola, as well as animals with the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) – categorized as other coronaviruses.  

Infectious disease experts are studying the medication to see if it can directly block replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 illness. 

“In response to this COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgency for safe and effective therapies,” said Dr. Gregory Huhn, an infectious disease physician for Cook County Health and principal site investigator of the drug trials. “This worldwide study of remdesivir could potentially address the serious medical and public health need to quickly identify an effective treatment to help save lives.”  

Depending upon the severity of a patient’s symptoms, they will be provided with the option to participate in the most appropriate study. Study participants for the clinical trials must meet the following criteria: 

  • Willing and able to provide written informed consent prior to performing study procedures 
  • Hospitalized 
  • Certain level of oxygen in the blood
  • Evidence of infection in the lungs 

The moderate COVID-19 study will look at three treatment groups. One treatment group will be given remdesivir for five days and the other will be given the drug for a 10-day periodThe third group will serve as a control group. All treatment groups will receive standard of care therapy. 

The second study focuses on patients with severe COVID-19. Patients will receive remdesivir for a 10-day period, and some may receive a five-day course of the drug. 

All participants will be closely monitored to ultimately evaluate the drug’s effectiveness to treat COVID-19 during this global pandemic.

The study is funded by Gilead Sciences Inc., the drugmaker of remdesivir.