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Sunday Updates: Oregon Receives Remdesivir, Experimental Drug Used In Severe COVID Cases

<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>
<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>

UPDATE (1:15 p.m. PT) — Oregon has received its first shipments of remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that has been used to treat patients hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, the drug hasn’t been formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but is being used under a federally approved emergency use authorization.

The authorization allows health professionals to administer the drug to severely ill COVID-19 patients who meet certain clinical criteria. 

Preliminary clinical testing by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showed that some patients treated with the drug recovered up to 31% faster. According to Gilead Sciences Inc., the drug’s developer, “it is not known if remdesivir is safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19.”

The Oregon Health Authority is neither recommending nor discouraging the use of remdesivir. 

“Because of the experimental nature of the drug, shared decision-making between patients and providers is paramount, and informed consent must be obtained prior to its use,”  Dr. Dana Hargunani, the health authority's chief medical officer, said in a statement.

Providence St. Vincent and Providence Portland medical centers have been approved for clinical trials of the drug, with more than 30 patients treated as of Saturday.

The allotments received by the Oregon Health Authority included enough remdesivir for 80 patients to receive a 10-day treatment course, enough to treat all COVID-19 patients who meet eligibility criteria for the drug. The agency anticipates additional allotments in the future.

Three consecutive days of no deaths; Oregon cases total 3,623 

Health officials reported no new coronavirus-related deaths Sunday, marking three consecutive days of no reported deaths in Oregon. The state’s death toll remains at 137 people.

Clark County tops 400 confirmed cases Friday

In Southwest Washington, Clark County Public Health announced two new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday, bringing the county’s total number of known cases to 401.

One additional death was reported Friday. In total, 25 people are known to have died of COVID-19 in Clark County.

According to the most recently available data from the Washington Department of Health, the state of Washington has 17,951 confirmed coronavirus cases and 992 known coronavirus-related deaths. 

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting