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Scanning electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 viruses (yellow), the virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from the surface of a cell. (Photo courtesy of NIAID.)
NIAID provides COVID-19 antiviral drug for VA’s Veteran patients
March 7, 2023
"This cooperation between VA and NIAID is a phenomenal example of how interagency research collaborations can bring value directly to Veterans."
By Tristan Horrom
VA Research Communications
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has provided more than 27,000 doses of the antiviral drug remdesivir to the Department of Veterans Affairs after completing a collaborative study on treatments for COVID-19; the first shipments were sent out Feb. 23, 2023.
Remdesivir is the only antiviral medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19. After completing clinical trials in which patients received remdesivir as standard care along with other new medications being tested, NIAID had doses of the drug that had not been used in the studies, so NIAID coordinated with VA’s Office of Research and Development and Pharmacy Benefits Management service for the left-over doses to be used to treat VA patients. The contribution has an estimated value of $10.6 million.
“This cooperation between VA and NIAID is a phenomenal example of how interagency research collaborations can bring value directly to Veterans,” said Wendy Tenhula, VA’s deputy chief research and development officer. “VA has implemented an aggressive public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect and care for Veterans, and this medication will greatly help VA provide the best possible treatment to Veterans with COVID-19.”
NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, led a series of research trials called ACTIV-3–TICO (Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines–Therapeutics for Inpatients with COVID-19) to investigate medications to treat COVID-19. VA partnered with NIAID to conduct these trials, which investigated monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments for patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19. More than 20 VA medical centers recruited volunteers for these trials.
Remdesivir was first proven to be effective for treating COVID-19 in earlier clinical trials. The ACTIV-3–TICO trials stopped recruiting new participants in 2022 testing six medications for treating COVID-19. The new medications being tested proved to have limited effectiveness, in some cases because the virus developed mutations. In studying treatments for COVID-19, finding out what doesn’t work and why can be nearly as important as finding which medications do work.
The remdesivir doses will be used to treat Veterans who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.