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Complete results from the research, which was carried out by US government agency the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), were published by leading medical periodical the New England Journal of Medicine.
The United States authorised the emergency use of remdesivir in hospitals on May 1, followed by Japan, while Europe is considering following suit.
The study found that remdesivir, injected intravenously daily for 10 days, accelerated the recovery of hospitalised COVID-19 patients compared to a placebo in clinical tests on just over a thousand patients across 10 countries.
On April 29, NIAID director Anthony Fauci, who has become the US government's trusted face on the coronavirus pandemic, said preliminary evidence indicated remdesivir had a "clear-cut, significant and positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."
The National Institutes of Health, of which the NIAID is a part, said Friday in a statement online that investigators found "remdesivir was most beneficial for hospitalised patients with severe disease who required supplemental oxygen."
But the authors of the trial wrote that the drug did not prevent all deaths.
"Given high mortality despite the use of remdesivir, it is clear that treatment with an anti-viral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient," they said.
About 7.1 per cent of patients given remdesivir in the trial group died within 14 days — compared with 11.9 per cent in the placebo group.
However, the result is just below the statistical reliability threshold, meaning it could be down to chance rather than the capability of the drug.
The vaccine, called AZD1222, has been described by the World Health Organisation's chief scientist as the leading candidate in a global race to halt a pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives.
More than 8.53 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 453,834 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1326 GMT on Friday.
Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla called the development "a great day for science and humanity." Health experts said Pfizer's results show vaccines can halt pandemic.
Preliminary projections make the availability of one or several vaccines seem possible by autumn 2020," the Robert Koch Institute said in a statement on its website, citing a global effort to bring immunisations to market.
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