Great progress in Nature! Remdesivir is effective in rhesus monkeys infected with SARS-CoV-2!

COVID-19 continues to sweep the world, and there is an urgent need for effective drugs to treat COVID-19. Although many drugs for research, approval and reuse have been proposed, preclinical data from animal models can exclude treatments with no in vivo efficacy, thus guiding the search for effective treatments.

Remdesivir, GS-5734, is a nucleotide mimic prodrug with extensive antiviral activity. It is currently being studied in COVID-19 clinical trials and has recently been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States. In animal models, remdesivir is effective against MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV infections. In vitro, remdesivir inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health recently studied the efficacy of remdesivir in the treatment of rhesus monkeys infected with SARS-CoV-2, the results of which were published on Nature under the title “Clinical benefit of remdesivir in rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2”.

The researchers found that 12 hours after the first administration, the animals treated with remdesivir showed no signs of respiratory disease, and the X-rays showed less infiltration in the lungs and lower virus titers in bronchoalveolar lavage, compared with the animals without treatment. However, remdesivir treatment did not reduce the shedding of the upper respiratory tract virus.

An autopsy was performed after sacrificing the animals and found that the animals treated with remdesivir had a lower lung viral load and less damage to the lungs. Therefore, the treatment of remdesivirr in the early stage of infection has a clinical effect on rhesus monkeys infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Although the rhesus monkey model does not fully represent the serious diseases observed in COVID-19 patients, the researchers believe that their data support the early start of remdesivir treatment in COVID-19 patients to prevent the progression of pneumonia.


1. Williamson, B. N., Feldmann, F., Schwarz, B., Meade-White, K., Porter, D. P., Schulz, J., … & Okumura, A. (2020). Clinical benefit of remdesivir in rhesus macaques infected with SARS-CoV-2. BioRxiv.

2. Wang, M., Cao, R., Zhang, L., Yang, X., Liu, J., Xu, M., … & Xiao, G. (2020). Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro. Cell research30(3), 269-271.