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VCU begins clinical trials on COVID-19


Updated May 1

Drug may slow infection

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers began two clinical trials this week on an experimental treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe.

The trials focus on remdesivir, an investigational drug for use in patients with moderate or severe symptoms of COVID-19. Remdesivir was used experimentally to treat Ebola. The drug is designed to slow the infection of healthy cells in a patient’s body.

VCU’s clinical trials not only provide access to remdesivir for patients with no other treatment options but test the drug’s safety and effectiveness.

Remdesivir is an investigational agent — it is not approved anywhere for use globally and is not available to the public at large.

VCU is one of only a handful of institutions in the United States to make these clinical trials available to patients who meet the criteria for this investigational drug.

Will it work?

Remdesivir has demonstrated antiviral activity against other coronaviruses in test tube experiments and animal studies. Clinical trials in humans, though, were never completed.

The VCU studies will enroll participants with documented COVID-19 infection who have fever and symptoms warranting hospitalization. Doctors at VCU Health will administer the drug intravenously.

Does participation in the trials mean VCU Medical Center has access to a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?

No. There is no known cure, vaccine or approved treatment as yet for COVID-19.

I want to participate in the clinical trials. How do I sign up?

  • To be considered for the clinical trials, your doctor needs to refer you. You cannot request to participate yourself.

  • The clinical trials are for hospitalized patients with moderate or severe symptoms of COVID-19.

    • If you have mild symptoms and are at home under self-quarantine, you do not qualify.

    • If you are not sure if you have COVID-19, it is too early to determine if you would qualify. Please contact your health care provider to determine the next steps in your care.

How can my doctor refer me for this trial?

Your doctor can go to covid19trial.vcu.edu and fill out a referral form if he or she thinks you would be right for this trial. You cannot fill out the form yourself.

I have COVID-19 and am at home. Can I participate in the trials?

If you have mild symptoms and are at home under self-quarantine, you do not qualify.
As a trial site, we are screening patients for certain criteria. We did not set the criteria.

At VCU Health, the studies represent just one response to a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands worldwide, including hundreds in the United States. With no approved medications to treat the virus currently, there is an urgent need for effective treatments.

Read the full press release.

VCU Health is taking precautions to ensure the safety of all visitors, team members and patients, including those with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the hospital. Those in the trials are isolated from other populations.

Due to our evolving understanding of COVID-19, we are continually updating our website. Please check again for new information on COVID-19.