A COVID-19 treatment trial is set to begin Wednesday at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

CITY Newspaper reported Monday that the URMC trial will test if the drug Remdesivir is effective in treating COVID-19. The UR portion of the trial is being led by URMC doctors Angela Branche and Ann Falsey, who are working with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals on the trial.

“The first law of medicine is ‘do no harm,’” Branche said. “I know that there’s a lot of data out there about various different experimental treatment regiments, and before any of these things are used in people, we have to make sure that they’re safe and that they’re effective.”

Moderately and severely ill patients with COVID-19 who are hospitalized at URMC’s Strong Memorial Hospital will be eligible to participate in the trial, where they will be randomly given either Remdesivir or a placebo.

Remdesivir is one of several drugs being tested as a treatment for COVID-19. Scientists hope that it will block the virus’ ability to replicate within cells.

The trial comes as the disease continues to spread in Monroe County. A COVID-19 patient died at Strong, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza said Tuesday morning. It was the third such death in the county, where there are now 106 confirmed patients.

UR is one of the nine Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units in the U.S., meaning that it is part of the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, a group run by the National Institutes of Health that runs clinical trials.

UR was selected to join the group last year. In January, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci — now known for his appearances with the President of the United States — attended a kickoff for the VTEU at UR, Branche said. 

While speaking at the kickoff, Fauci gave UR their first focus: COVID-19.

Editor-in-Chief Wil Aiken contributed reporting.



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