The current effects of global pandemic are disturbing since the number of people affected by the virus keeps increasing. However, after months of quarantine and social isolation, there is still no viable antiviral drug to treat Coronavirus. Apart from the dexamethasone trial conducted in Britain, the media’s attention has been focused on the experimental treatment produced by Gilead Sciences (Horby et al., 2020). Katherine J. Wu of The New York Times reports about the new advancements Gilead is set to make in regards to a new inhalable version of remdesivir (Wu, 2020). In her article titled “Gilead to test a version of remdesivir that can be inhaled,” Wu (2020) argues that while there is “no guarantee that inhaled remdesivir will be an improvement over its injectable form,” the drug can still be effective in combination with the other immuno-stimulators. As for the statistical data Wu incorporates in her article, “Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19 — Preliminary report,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine in May, is her primary source of data regarding the effects of remdesivir. However, Wu fails to acknowledge that the association between remdesivir’s effectiveness and Coronavirus mortality rates’ decrease is weak and inconsistent.
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Wu uses the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine as a primary source that would indicate the effectiveness of remdesivir and explain Gilead’s efforts to make the drug more accessible by introducing an inhalable option. The study is double-blind, which is favorable since this is a randomized experiment that involves human subjects (Moore & Notz, 2009). Wu could have mentioned this fact in the article in order to demonstrate the study’s objectivity. While the randomized l model of the experiment is justifiable, the use of placebo remains questionable. Moreover, the study’s credibility decreases due to the small sample size and the time window of just ten days (Beigel et al., 2020). Wu (2020) excels at extracting the key outcomes of the experiment, which are associated with shortened recovery time, and not mortality rates. The article also mentions that there is no guarantee inhalable remdesivir will be more effective (which the Gilead CEO is hoping for) by linking two corresponding studies regarding inhaled gene therapy and insulin.
It would benefit the article even more if Wu provided a critique of the Gilead CEO’s flawed thinking in regards to the inhalable version of remdesivir. The CEO Daniel O’Day believes that an inhaled version of the drug can be more effective due to its ability to be administered early in infection. Wu could have mentioned there was no link between remdesivir’s effectiveness and time of treatment because the results from the New England experiment “were the same for patients regardless of whether they had received the drug treatment before or after 10 days of symptoms” (as cited in Kolata, 2020). The fact that such important statistical data were excluded from O’Day’s argument could suggest he had deliberately ignored it in order to leverage remdesivir and make a business opportunity out of the drug. His plan would include researching inhalable remdesivir, getting it approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and then distributing it to pharmacies for wide use, instead of hospitals that are only using remdesivir for critical patients.
Wu incorporates a number of other sources in order to construct her argument. She includes the statement given by the FDA regarding remdesivir’s emergency authorization (Wu, 2020). She further explains the status of the drug and the possible implications that might occur once Gilead tries to put an inhalable version of remdesivir on the market (Wu, 2020). According to Wu (2020), remdesivir is far from the official FDA approval. Therefore, she could have suggested the scientific community would invest in clinical trials focused on the drug’s safety and efficacy, rather than its alternative forms. She could have mentioned the clinical background of remdesivir and extensive statistics regarding its failure to treat hepatitis (which it was intended designed for) and Ebola (Kolata, 2020). The article would benefit greatly if Wu elaborated further on the possible treatment combining remdesivir, dexamethasone, and various immune-statements. She could have included a clinical study conducted by a group of British researchers at Oxford University. The clinical trial concluded that dexamethasone “reduced 28-day mortality among those receiving invasive mechanical ventilation or oxygen at randomization” (Horby et al., 2020). Although, if Wu used this source, she would have to mention that while the statistical data are consistent and the alleged cause is strong, the source where the preliminary report was published had not been peer-reviewed.
In conclusion, Katherine Wu demonstrates great professional skills as a scientific writer by applying the appropriate research and including multiple points of view in order to construct an argument. She explains the effectiveness of remdesivir connected with recovery time while staying objective and concluding that the mortality effects are negligible. Moreover, the author incorporates sources to discuss the legal status of the drug. In order to make the article into more of an analytical piece, Wu could have included the background data on remdesivir, evaluated the intentions of the Gilead CEO, and paid more attention to the combination of dexamethasone and immunostimulants in the treatment process.
Beigel, J.H., Tomashek, K.M., Dodd, L.E., Mehta, A.K., Zingman, B.S., Kalil, A.C., Hohmann, E., Chu, H.Y., Luetkemeyer, A., Kline, S., Lopez de Castilla, D., Finberg, R.W., Dierberg, K., Tapson, V., Hsieh, L., Patterson, T.F., Paredes, R., Sweeney, D.A., Short, W.R., et al. (2020). Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19 — Preliminary report. The New England Journal of Medicine.
Horby, P., Lim, W. S., Emberson, J., Mafham, M., Bell, J., Linsell, L., Staplin, N., Brightling, C., Ustianowski, A., Elmahi, E., Prudon, B., Green, C., Felton, T., Chadwick, D., Rege, K., Fegan, C., Chappell, L. C., Faust, S. N., Jaki, T., et al. (2020). Effect of dexamethasone in hospitalized patients with COVID-19: Preliminary report. MedRxiv.
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Kolata, G. (2020). Federal scientists finally publish remdesivir data. The New York Times. Web.
Moore, D. S., & Notz, W. I. (2009). Statistics: Concepts and controversies (7th ed.). W. H. Freeman and Company.
Wu, K. J. (2020). Gilead to test a version of remdesivir that can be inhaled. The New York Times. Web.